Sermón 5 de agosto 2012: Work out your salvation with holy fear
- Presenter: Roberto Miranda
- Date: August 5, 2012
- Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA
We are going to read Philippians chapter 2 verse 12 & 13, and this part is very important as we are going to explore this further: "Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence but also 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 according to his good purpose." And the seed, the central part of this preaching is going to be work out your salvation with fear and trembling. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians to this community among whom he had planted a church years earlier. Apostle Paul now in jail writes this letter to his brothers in Philippy to share the council from his heart about how they can grow as christians.
And I believe that we can confidently apply these words of council to the people in Philippy to our own lives as church and also as individuals. Paul's desire was that the Philippian church would be a vital church, full of energy and vigor, that it could be a healthy church that could do the Word that God entrusted to them. And among all the different council that Paul gives to this church is this jewel of a verse, this jewel of council that says occupy yourselves of working out your salvation with fear and trembling. God's desire is for Lion of Juda to be a church that is healthy, that is full of the Holy Spirit. The world and this city needs churches that are healthy, that are alive and full of the power of the Holy Spirit, and I believe we can be one of those churches that blesses and promotes the Kingdom of God in the city of Boston, that we can be a church that inspires other churches and other pastors to continue pressing in the seek of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and to serve God.
And I wanna say this with all humility and simplicity. It's just important for us to realize that many people and churches in this region are on this church. Many people consider us to be a healthy, vital church. And I say this for the Glory of the Lord, not for our glory, because we are a church that is full of defects and imperfections like any other church, it is only by the Grace of God that we can do anything that is worthwhile. But the fact is that the eyes of many churches in the city see us as a healthy church that is blessing the community, helps to inspire them and provide some guidance into how to do that as well. Yesterday we had a beautiful time at the park in Humpkin Tecwork where thirty people were baptized and we enjoyed just a spirit of joy in the group, and we could see the harmony that was there between people from so many cultures and races, and even languages, and of course the food that flew in abundance, domino, volleyball, there were times of prayer here and there, just people praying and sharing, there was the Glory of God in that place.
I thank God for those indications of spiritual health from our community. And I believe that the reason for this health is that there is a group within our church of people who take their christina life extremely seriously. Everyday I see people more and more deciding to consagrate their lives to the Lord, to take the things of God seriously, and wanting to be fully committed to God's purposes. People who are taking seriously this world that we are reading here that says work out your salvation with fear and trembling. The healthy christian life, whether it is in the individual level or the level of the community, is impossible unless the person takes this cult of radical commitment seriously. Unless a person moved by the Holy Spirit believes I need to take my responsibility seriously and appropriate the calling of God in my life. Every person needs to appropriate their faith and their responsibilities before God.
A healthy church is the result of a great number of people that takes seriously their relationship with Christ and their sense of responsibility to the Lord. A healthy church needs people who feel committed personally to Jesus Christ. That is why apostle Paul says you have always obeyed not only in my presence but also in my absence. What apostle Paul is saying is that we cannot depend on others for our own personal faith. You cannot depend on your church or your pastors, or your elders, you need to depend personally and directly on Jesus Christ. Bible says putting your eyes on Jesus. Now there is some people who when they are getting personal attention, when they receive calls from people, or visits or something, they will come and will be ok, but the minute they feel that they are not getting that attention they may stop coming. There are some christians that remind me of a tire I had on my car once.
This tire had just a little leak, a little air was escaping. Everytime I would go, I would pump up that tire and it would be fine for a few days, but inevitably the air would come down and it would become flat. I tried to do everything I could possibly do to keep from getting a new tire, patching and whatnot, finally had to get a new tire. And there are christians like that, they will come to the church while they are getting positive feedback or attention from certain people, they are inflated with energy and enthusiasm, but the minute that wears off there is a leak and the air just runs off. The Bible says put your faith in Jesus Christ, put your faith in Jesus.
The church can let you down, the church can not fullfill your expectations, it happens. Pastors we will fail you often, that woman that you view as your model, what means to be a real christian, who you put way up on a pedestal, that woman can fail you and your faith fall with her. The church needs healthy christians directly connected to Jesus Christ with a life full of the Holy Spirit, joined to the Word of God, with a personal private life of prayer and seeking of the Holy Spirit. A healthy church is one where everyone is seeking the Lord during the week, praying, reading the Bible, and then they come together on a regular basis to get together, to celebrate and to just join forces to worship the Lord. And that is why the apostle Paul says I'm happy that you would obey and you do well not only in my presence but also in my absence.
The Apostle Paul was now in prison, he couldn't be with them in person to communicate to them his faith and his guidande to them. As I was saying to the church this morning, Lion of Juda you cannot depend on a man for your spiritual health. Unless the Lord comes I'm gonna be with Him one day, something is going to happen, Lion of Juda cannot depend on a Pastor or the Pastors, you are depending on Jesus Christ who is the head of the Church. So never put a man in a pedestal, there is only one that deserves to be there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So I have been praying for years, don't worry, there are no plans or anything, but I have been praying for years that one day for whatever reason if I'm not here that the church will be fine, that there would be people to carry to keep going forward. So I challenge you as a Church don't depend on this couple of hours a week for your spiritual health, no, you are like a soldier that is on call 24/7, you are seeking the Lord, you are praying, you have your own personal relation with Christ.
You know it says, the first part of the message is, I'm very happy that you guys have always been concerned about your faith, not only in my presence, but also in my absence, faith is not something that you live in substitution carried by pastors, through the church, through the community, through more mature christians, the christian faith is supposed to be lived independently in Christ with Him as your source of energy and power and vitality, and then in community as you share the vitality that you have made possible through that communion with Jesus Christ. It's pretty much what I've said in spanish but let me say the second part here now. Paul says as the consequence of the fact that you have been obedient both in my presence and in my absence, now I call you to take charge and to occupy yourselves to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
You know the word work out your salvation, the expression that is translated to english, work out, comes from the greek catarguesmo which means to work with a sense of purpose and direction. The intention of the apostle Paul is, work hard, with focus, work with a sense of purpose, execute your salvation, in a concentrated sort of way, sweat it out in other words. You know many times Paul uses the image of an athlete, of a runner, that concentrates on getting his gold medal. You know this is the season of the Olympics and everyone is watching television, everyone watching these great young men and women achieve the pinnacle of athletic prowess, you know that moment of winning that medal is the consumation, the conclussion of many many years, of hard, almost inhuman work and concentration.
The other afternoon I was watching the television in a restaurant, and for a moment I was able to see these women competing, I think it was thirty hundred meters, it was an inhumanly difficult race, for thirty minutes these bodies were running to the peak of their capacity, you know I would have run just one lap and probably would have been on the floor, it was truly amazing to see the beauty of the human body, I don't think there is any sport like cross-country running or running in general that exemplifies just the purity of athletic competition, like running races. And I saw the ultimate winner of this race, next to the last lap, just giving all that she had, and she was behind in the line and she just took over the three women that were in front of her, and she tore that course, I mean she just ran and she was about almost half a lap ahead of any other contender, I realized that that moment was the culmination of many, many years of concentrated effort, and that moment was simply the expression of all that she had done before, she got to that moment of the race. It was the Ethiophian woman.
After all week of seeking the Lord, of praying, of getting into His Word, of serving Him day after day, we come together on Sunday morning, it's that final lap, where we come together to celebrate the power of God together. Work out in your salvation. Concentrate, work with force, with focus and with energy. Working out your salvation requires energy, and effort. True christian life is going to involve moments of agony, and blood-sweath and tears. There are people that think christian life is just an easy, easy thing, there are many preachers that are ready to sell that kind of gospel, that involves God as only giving and not requiring anything from people. You know we have focused on God as simply some kind of supplier, some kind of daddy that gives us all that we ask him, and that's Him, simply the supplier of all our needs, and that's it.
God does have demands and requirements of His people. Christianity has privileges and responsibilities. The gospel is all blessing but there are testings with all of that. Maybe God will call you to times of testing and trial to purify and refine your faith. God is like that trainer, that sargent who will push you so you can pass the limit because He wants to get the best out of you. God is calling us to a new level of concentration that requires commitment, energy and force, having a vision for that. And as we are called to work out our salvation it reminds me of two types of santification that the Bible teaches. There is a type of santification that is instantaneous and there is one that is gradual. When we accept the Lord there is a moment of grace where we are instantly cleaned, not guilty for all our sins. When we accept Jesus in that moment God sees us through the eyes of Jesus Christ. The purity, the inocence, the perfection of Jesus is placed upon us so the Lord sees us that way without any defect, without any sin, and we are forgiven.
That is why the apostle Paul teaches now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God has made us holy, he has made us into a saint, in a legal sense, before God we are completely cleaned. But there's another type of santification that is not instant, but a gradual process. And that is the type of process the apostle talks about, says work out your salvation. This type of santification involves the transformation of our minds. Results in changes of our behaviors and habits, how we speak, how we interact with others, how we do in conflicts with the challenges of life, is a full change of our mind, of our hearth, of our life style, and that is a process that goes on all our life and doesn't end before we stand in God's Glory. That character transformation is one that will not happen unless we are committed to Jesus through our lives. You'll never become a radical healthy christian until we come to that moment of crisis where we say God I'm all Yours, I want all of You in my life.
There are two type of christians, there are christians that are church christians, they attend, they sort of believe in God, but their lives don't reflect that fire, there's really a lukewarm temperature to their faith, that's something that God despises. In the book of Revelation the Lord Jesus is speaking to the Church of Laodicea, and says because you are neither cold or warm, because you are lukewarm I am about to spew you from My mouth, the Lord says I wish you were either hot or cold but because you are lukewarm, this will happen. ¿Have you ever had a nice drink of lukewarm water on a hot day?, a lukewarm tappered christian also provokes nausea in our Lord. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you today, it's time to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. You must consagrate your life to one goal which is to become an olympic caliber christian.
Now if you notice apostle Paul says we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, you know that's a scary thought, this idea that there must be fear involded in the christian life, there is always an idea that the christian life must be of joy, of happiness, peace, and light-heartdeness, but there is also of fear and trembling involved. We need to understand that God is love but is also a consuming fire. We need to realize we live in a world that is not neutral, it is hostile to the christian life, seeking to undermine christian values and dross away through christianity. There is an enemy who is fully committed 24/7 to try to damage or destroy a committed daughter or son of God.
We were on vacation in Maine, we like to go out to the wilderness for a couple of weeks, and we met someone who was walking through our camp site, it was a rather isolated pathway, and as this person was walking along the path he saw a beautiful deer mother come look both ways and then cross across the path right before his eyes, and he froze scared, like a statue, saw two little deers walking behind following the other deer across the path, and eventually daddy came too and crossed the path. It was a preservation thing, you know the mother goes first is all too often, he got the laugh when he talks about how women often take the lead in these things, then the baby deers in the middle and there along comes dad eventually, he made it but he was in the back, you know, protecting in the back, he covered their back, it's a protection formation that they were doing.
And this formation of self preservation of them protecting their young, really shows that they live with an awareness that we don't live in a neutral world, that the world is a hostile place, that there is danger, and it's a regular pattern of them living with that awareness that there's a battle going on around them. And you see where I'm going with this, we are living in a hostile world infested with demons and the enemy trying to come to steal, kill and destroy, and we need to live with that awareness. The Bible teaches we are to be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil pries around seeking who to devour. Many christians live like little rabbits who are completely unaware of the dangers around them and just run out without thinking of the battle that surrounds them and get devoured by predators.
I'm encouraging you brothers and sisters to take the christian life seriously, the world is getting worse everyday, the enemy has been given power to kill, rob and destroy, the world has become full of violence and all kinds of things are out there to undermine the christian life, a lukewarm christianity, a lukewarm spirituality will not be sufficient to resist the forces that are there to pull us away. Parents, parents, you need a double portion of strength and spiritual vitality, because the dangers today are worse than they have ever been, and we need to transmit an abundant spirituality to them that will resist the forces that will come against them. And young people, you need to take your life seriously, you need to take ownership of your spiritual life, you need to become aware that you matter before God and before the community as well.
The other day I was waiting for somebody to come out of a bank and was waiting on my car, and out of the bank emerged this man, he was a latino young man, shirtless and with shorts, and his sneakers, and he had you know, earphones on listening to music, he looked so care-free and at the same time so inept and incompetent, you know he just walked out of there and he was walking alone, and maybe I was proyecting but he looked so empty, so devoid of any sense of the seriousness of life, that I felt sorry, because I felt ¿where is this young man going, what's going to become of him?, he was eighteen, nineteen, you know maybe he was a genius, but he didn't look like it. You know he was probably like so many young men that go to school, they don't take life seriously, their duties, they are not working for their profession, they are just living care-free, their mom or dad is supplying them their sneakers or Iphone, they are not investing in the future, they are not exempting themselves from certain pleasures in order to invest for the life that's ahead.
¿What's going to happen to that man when he's 29?, ¿is he going to have a home, is he going to be a good husband, a good father, has he invested in the skills that he requires to do that?, ¿has he gone hard into studying and to work hard for a profession?, to know that some day he's going to be responsible, he is not going to have mom or dad to provide for his needs, if he doesn't work hard now ¿what's gonna happen with the future?, he's living just care-free, day by day, not being concerned about the future.
Young people I wanna give you a call to you, a charge to you, take your life seriously, and specially take your fate seriously, faith will emerge out of a triumphant life, a serious life, a life that is morally and ethically strong, you will become a person of good fruit, you will become for your community, but you need to take your fate seriously. This is what the apostle says, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, life needs some fear and some trembling, ¿you know?, it's not just joy, and peace and happiness, no, you need to take your life seriously. Lion of Juda I am calling you to be people that takes their life seriously, to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
¿What does Peter 1:10 say?: "Therefore my brothers be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure, because if you do these things you will never fall." There's all too many people who when they accept the Lord they come forward, they think their passport is sealed, they don't have to worry about anything else anymore, I am going to heaven, I can relax. There are some people that assume that their salvation depends on God and God only, and it has nothing to do with them. There are some parts of the christian world that empathize so much the control of God that they minimize any human responsibility whatsoever. But here the apostle Paul says to make your calling and election sure. Because if you do these things you will never fall. The way I read this, the way I understand the Word of God is that if a person isn't careful, it is possible to fall, to lose salvation. If you take the call of God and live your life lightly it's a dangerous place to be. Apostle Paul says the only way to make your election sure is to do your part, be all the more eager to dedicate yourself to your spiritual growth. There is a holy fear that is healthy in the christian life, it's a fear that comes from God and it produces a life of holiness. We know we serve a terribly holy and awesome God, and a good dose of fear is healthy for spiritual life. So God is calling us as we bring this to a close to take your salvation seriously. Do everything on your part to defend what God has done in your life.
Take God's call in your life seriously, do everything you can to fend on the flame in your life that God has already put there. Serve God with all the areas of your mind, your body, ask God to come into every aspect of your being and to pull out, weed out everything that doesn't please Him. Know that there is nothing more important that you can do with your life than to become a man or a woman full of the Holy Spirit. I want a church full of people, of fire from God and fire for Him. People who have died to the world and are living to the Glor of God. People who are not afraid, not afraid to say I serve God, I live for God, people who say God use me, I want You do to a work in me, and are willing to say it, they are willing to share the gospel with the people around them, and bring others to faith as well. People who mourn over their sin, who are not content with the sin in their lives, and cry about God changing them and set them free.
People who wanna die so that Jesus might live in them. ¿Who wants this kind of life?, a life that is occupied in the things of God, a life that is fully immersed in the waters of the Holy Spirit. I pray that that be the desire in the heart of everyone here.