reign

The Work of God

Are you working today? Is God working in you and through your life? How seriously do you take your Christianity? Are you a complainer about the problems you are facing, or a grumbler about the commands of Deity? Are you shining like a light in the middle of a dark room? All of these and more are questions we need to be asking ourselves as we read the following section from the inspired pen of the apostle to the Gentiles: 

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of the Messiah I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me" (Philippians 2:12-18). 

This portion of Holy Writ (vs 12-18) starts off with another "therefore", and we would do well to ask, "What is it there for?" Paul is informing the Philippian Christians that they are to continue learning what it truly means to live as a people who know the Messiah and are in the process of possessing His mindset or attitude (see Philippians 2:5-11). Properly viewing the Messiah teaches us to be selfless toward others (Philippians 2:1-4), but now we see that it also shows us how to live in a much broader fashion - in a way that applies to every part of who we are to be as humans on this planet.

When Paul instructs them to "work out" their salvation, he is is not talking about earning anything or adding good behavior to their lives to balance out the bad... His exhortation refers to the outworking of our salvation as we learn what is means to be a part of this united family in the Messiah. Salvation is when the grace of God works in us and through us to accomplish His holy and loving will. An explanation of what Paul means is found in verse 13 - he makes it clear that God supplies the will and energy to carry out this working of salvation. Note: All of this is to the great pleasure of Deity. "I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus the Messiah" (Philippians 1:6).  

We are to engage in this work of obedience to God with a thorough seriousness, or "with fear and trembling." I submit that this phrase is not about being afraid of God (see 1 John 4:17-18), but that is it actually about being afraid of ourselves. We are to be ever mindful of our own weaknesses and to keep a careful watch over the way we're living our lives before God and others. "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12; see also 2 Corinthians 13:5). One man translated the phrase as, "and naturally you'll be taking this with utter seriousness." 

Paul then writes, "do everything without grumbling or disputing." Everything? Did he really mean everything? Absolutely. We may be working for the Messiah (v. 12), but how many of us are doing so without any complaints?

For His infinite worth,

Gantt 

Remembering the Reign

There is a lot of turmoil and confusion in our world today. One does not have to look very far to see battle lines being drawn and emotions running high in the world of politics /culture. From the upcoming presidential election to the issues regarding public bathrooms, there are a lot of a heated discussions and impactful actions occurring. It can be easy to get caught up in such, and it is fairly easy to begin to be either pessimistic and downtrodden or angry and confused....or possibly some combination thereof.

As followers of the Messiah, we are to live in this current world, but not to be of this world. Let us keep ever in our hearts that the kingdom we have joined is not “of this current world” (see John 18:33-38; Matthew 6:10; etc.). Knowing the nature of the reign of God should instill confidence, contentment, and courage in our hearts...if we belong to Him.

“Be subject for the Master's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor (president) as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as slaves of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (president)” (1 Peter 2:13-17; compare with Romans 13:1-7).

It should to be clear that we are to honor and submit to our governing authorities...whether we personally agree with their decisions (or like them) or not. But if submitting to a civil authority ever conflicts with Divine commands, then we also know how we ought to respond: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; see also 4:18-20).

Some more important reminders/observations:

Spiritual liberty is far more important than civil liberty (liberties). I am unaware of any passage of Holy Writ discussing the merits of civil liberties. It is righteousness that exalts a nation (read that somewhere in an old book with lots of wisdom)...not political function, structure, or liberty. As odd as it may seem to some, a lack of civil liberty actually breeds commitment among God's holy ones. History (both inspired and non-inspired) abundantly testifies to the way persecution fans the flames of spiritual and numerical growth within the body of the Messiah. Read Acts 4:1-4; 5:41-6:1, 7.

Individual repentance brings a nation back from ruin, not leaders or voting booths. Hearts changed by the good news leads to changed lives – all of which then leads to a changed people. The good news of the King is the Divine power to save and make people right before God (Romans 1:16-17). We will never truly change any nation by our vote (or any kind of political effort)...the only way to truly change a nation is to live within and to proclaim the rescuing reign of Deity.

If Jesus is to truly be our Master, then He must be the Master of every arena of our lives – including the workplace, the grocery store, and the voting booth. May the Messiah be the Master of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  

End of the day truth: Jesus is King of kings...let us strive to be His loyal subjects! May we never be ashamed of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, for it is the Divine power for deliverance to everyone who believes.    

For His infinite worth,

Gantt