Today we started reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We remember the events at Philippi where he and Silas were arrested and thrown into the town jail because they healed a demented girl whose ‘owners’ were making money out of her (Acts 16 v.12 – 40). But a strong enough earthquake occurred about midnight! The events which followed led to the conversion of the jailer and his family; they probably became foundation members of the ecclesia there.
Paul’s letter to them is more positive than any of his other letters – the only thing he had to warn them about was that some were preaching with unworthy motives (1 v15). He writes, ” 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.” [2 v.12] That is “fear” in the sense of “awe” in sensing what God and Christ must be.
How much must their behaviour have stimulated Paul – as well as their material support sent to him (4 v.15) His next words are profound, they are words we do well to meditate on, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” [2 v.13] Those who conscientiously “work out” their “own salvation” are truly “working together with God” [2 Cor. 6 v.1] – rather than the other way round. Paul obviously did not see himself as working with God – but it was really – God “with” him and with them! Let us sense the wonder of the same happening with us.
Now – in 2015 – this is surely the time of the final ingathering. The parable of Jesus comes to mind – see Luke 14 v.17-23 – where the Lord’s instruction is ” bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame…. that my house may be filled”
Back in Philippians Paul’s prayer for them – see 1 v.9 – should be our prayer. “it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” Let us make sure that our prayers for each other are the same – we specially note Paul’s next words – ” so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness…”
As we each “work out” our “own salvation” we must check on the “fruit” we have produced – today – and make plans as to how we can produce more. Bro D.Caudery