Saturday, November 23, 2013

Working Out Your Salvation

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you.  And now that I am away, it is even more important.  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Phillipians 2:12-13 (NLT)

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 to will and to act according to his good purposes.

Philipians 2:12-13 (NIV)

I did it again.  I felt I was doing so well, and then once again I fell on my face.  I used to think every time that I went right back to the sin that tripped me up, that I had to go right back to the begining and start all over again.  It is amazing I haven't responded to a dozen altar calls and been baptized six times.  You aren't suppose to get it right.  You are expected to fall down. You do realize that right?  That person you look up to in church, has probably fell down several times this week.  It doesn't mean that he is a bad guy.  It doesn't mean that he isn't really a Christian.  It means he is still a human.  Just because we have been reconciled to God doesn't mean we some how lose the capacity to really screw up.  It just means that we have been forgiven for our sins before we ever committ them.  Does that me we should just say screw it and live like a heathen?  No!  It is written that you ought not but God to the test.  I remember that verse from the tempting of Jesus.  It means that in our failings we learn and continue to seek the will of God.

I think we have lost a big part of the story.  With all the emphasis on "getting saved", we have really lost sight of the bigger picture.  Christianity is not just a little prepackaged prayer and then you are baptised.  Chrisitianity isn't about giving up smoking and drinking.  No, it is so much larger than that.  If you look at the letter to the Philipians, Paul talks about salvation being work.  Some people may get a little squimish with that idea.  I don't believe that you have to work to earn your salvation.  I am not saying that at all.  I like the way the New Living Translation states this verse.  It says, "work hard to show the results of your salvation".  If you look at salvation as a free ticket out of hell, then this verse makes no sense.  Salvation is so much more than that.  Prior to our conversion we are alienated from God.  We can't have a real and authentic connection to our creator.  The result of your salvation is that the blood of Christ has bridged that gap.  Suddenly, you are able to connect with God.  You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  I appreciate that Paul says that we should obey God, but then goes on in the very next verse to tell us that HE gives us the desire and the power to do just that.  Do understand what that means?  We are striving to God's will, but God has to give us the desire and the will to do it.  Show I would suggest that the hard work that Paul is talking about is the hard work to remain connected  to God.  It is striving to maintain that intimacy with God, when all the troubles and noise of world begs to take your attention away.  If we stay in constant connection to God, then he will give us the drive and the power to obey him.  The problem is that sometimes when we really need to have that connection to God, we decide to go offline.  Perhaps you have a sin that you are enjoying way to much to give it up.  Holding onto a sin that God has revealed to you will take you off line.  How about if you let your emotions build up, without turning them over to God.  Jesus says, come to me and I will give you rest.  When you try to handle things like that on your own, you are not truly trusting God.  God hears your pain.  He can see what is happening to you.  He wants you to trust him to work it out.  You have to give him the opprotunity to work things out for you.  If you are not trusting God, and turning your burdens over to him, then you have taken yourself offline.  If you go along like that for to long, you never know what sort of things you may do to deal with those things on your own.  God has an answer to each and everyone of your sorrows.  Lay down your burdens and trust him.  If you go back to the altar call.  The path you took to that altar was just a small part of a path that will last a lifetime.  If you believe in Jesus and trust him, he will make you more like him.  He never promises to make you like him at the altar.  He has promised that if you will trust him and follow him then he will help you to grown through time to be like him.  This is journey.  You have to be in it for the long haul.

Have you fallen lately?  I know I have.  Don't think that you have to go all the way back to the begining.  Stand up.  Turn back to God.  Seek to remake that connection that you have lost with him.  Keep moving!  Ask God to teach you through each and every one of your failings.  As you continue to do that you will become more and more like Christ.  That is really all God has asked of us.  He wants us to connect to him, and enjoy communion with him.

 

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