Work Out Work In

Work-Out-In-Blog

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

Today we will be looking at these two verses in Philippians that seem almost contradictory but in reality are complimentary.

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.

Philippians 2:12-13 ESV

Paul states the first duty he had in mind with these words: ‘… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling …’ (v. 12).

The apostle is not asking the Philippians to work for their salvation. If we are in doubt about this, we only have to read a bit further. He will soon give details of his own futile efforts to earn the favour of God (3:1–11).

Those who advocate salvation by works do so only because they fail to understand that God demands perfect righteousness of us. When this point hits home, it is obvious to us that we cannot be saved by works, because, no matter how many good works we do, they cannot elevate us to the level of perfect righteousness.

Paul tells his readers to ‘work out’ their salvation. His meaning becomes clearer when we look at his next phrase: ‘… for it is God who works in you …’ (v. 13).

Salvation is God’s work. We cannot save ourselves. Only God can enlighten our minds to see the truth and move our wills to accept the truth. The very faith with which we receive his work of salvation is not something we can produce. It is rather God’s gift to us. He gives us both the salvation to receive by faith and the faith to receive the salvation (Eph. 2:8–9). No one who finally enters eternal glory will have one shred of credit to claim. God will not share his glory with another.

Paul was calling the Philippians, therefore, to work out what God had worked in. They were to live in such a way as to manifest that God had done his saving work within them. They were to show outwardly what God had done inwardly.

While we must not believe in salvation by works, we must most certainly believe in a salvation that works. In other words, we must not fall for that lie of the devil which suggests that one can truly be saved and not manifest it by good works.

This was, of course, the issue with which James was so urgently concerned when he wrote: ‘… faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say,

“You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?’ (James 2:17–20).

Paul made the same point—that true salvation manifests itself in good works—in these words to the Ephesians:

‘For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Eph. 2:10).

We cannot leave this point without noting that the ‘working out’ for which the apostle calls is to be done with ‘fear and trembling’ (v. 12) and also with confidence (v. 13).

With the phrase ‘fear and trembling’, the apostle was calling his readers to go about their Christian lives with a sense of awe and wonder. The apostle was calling them to manifest in their daily living the salvation of the living God, the salvation that had been planned for them before the foundation of the world. They were part of something that was far more massive than they could imagine. Mundane Christian duties dance and shimmer with delight when we learn to coat them with privilege. And living for the Lord becomes easier when we understand that it is the Lord for whom we live.

Lest his readers should feel overwhelmed by the thought of having to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, Paul added a word of assurance that would give them confidence:

‘… it is God who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure’ (v. 13).

The God who had done the work of salvation within them had not abandoned them. He was still at work in them, giving them both the desire and the power to work out their salvation. If we have no desire to live for the Lord, we have no right to say we know the Lord.

Source:

Ellsworth, Roger. Opening Up Philippians. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications, 2004.

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

INABILITY: FALLEN HUMAN BEINGS ARE BOTH FREE AND ENSLAVED

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

Here we are continuing our discussion on J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology.

Understanding basic theological truths is important in the life of the believer. Again I reiterate what J.I Packer says,

theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. “

INABILITY

FALLEN HUMAN BEINGS ARE BOTH FREE AND ENSLAVED

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

JEREMIAH 17:9

Clear thought about the fallen human condition requires a distinction between what for the past two centuries has been called free agency and what since the start of Christianity has been called free will. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and others spoke of free will in two senses, the first trivial, the second important; but this was confusing, and it is better always to use free agency for their first sense.

Free agency is a mark of human beings as such. All humans are free agents in the sense that they make their own decisions as to what they will do, choosing as they please in the light of their sense of right and wrong and the inclinations they feel. Thus they are moral agents, answerable to God and each other for their voluntary choices. So was Adam, both before and after he sinned; so are we now, and so are the glorified saints who are confirmed in grace in such a sense that they no longer have it in them to sin. Inability to sin will be one of the delights and glories of heaven, but it will not terminate anyone’s humanness; glorified saints will still make choices in accordance with their nature, and those choices will not be any the less the product of human free agency just because they will always be good and right.

Free will, however, has been defined by Christian teachers from the second century on as the ability to choose all the moral options that a situation offers, and Augustine affirmed against Pelagius and most of the Greek Fathers that original sin has robbed us of free will in this sense. We have no natural ability to discern and choose God’s way because we have no natural inclination Godward; our hearts are in bondage to sin, and only the grace of regeneration can free us from that slavery. This, for substance, was what Paul taught in Romans 6:16-23; only the freed will (Paul says, the freed person) freely and heartily chooses righteousness. A permanent love of righteousness—that is, an inclination of heart to the way of living that pleases God—is one aspect of the freedom that Christ gives (John 8:34-36; Gal. 5:1, 13).

It is worth observing that will is an abstraction. My will is not a part of me which I choose to move or not to move, like my hand or my foot; it is precisely me choosing to act and then going into action. The truth about free agency, and about Christ freeing sin’s slave from sin’s dominion, can be expressed more clearly if the word will is dropped and each person says:

I am the morally responsible free agent; I am the slave of sin whom Christ must liberate; I am the fallen being who only have it in me to choose against God till God renews my heart.

Source: Packer, J. I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

Am I carnally minded?

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

The following comes from Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year.

Today I felt like sharing this because this is a passage I have wrestled with in the past and I think Oswald Chambers does a good job in explaining it briefly. He is speaking to believers who because of sin in their lives may feel far from God. Maybe you have said to yourself at some point in your Christian conversion, I miss feeling close to God. Maybe someone has shared that with you and you don’t know what to say to them.

Am I carnally minded?

Whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal? 1 Cor. 3:3.

No natural man knows anything about carnality. The flesh lusting against the Spirit that came in at regeneration, and the Spirit lusting against the flesh, produces carnality. “Walk in the Spirit,” says Paul, “and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh”; and carnality will disappear.

Are you contentious, easily troubled about trifles? ‘Oh, but no one who is a Christian ever is!’ Paul says they are, he connects these things with carnality. Is there a truth in the Bible that instantly awakens petulance in you? That is a proof that you are yet carnal. If sanctification is being worked out, there is no trace of that spirit left.

If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands bared before God; a child of the darkness says—‘Oh, I can explain that away.’ When once the light breaks and the conviction of wrong comes, be a child of the light, and confess, and God will deal with what is wrong; if you vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.

(The previous paragraph is huge to understand.) Read the following…

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:5–10 ESV

What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone it is the most real thing imaginable. God will see that you have any number of opportunities to prove to yourself the marvel of His grace. The practical test is the only proof. ‘Why,’ you say, ‘if this had happened before, there would have been the spirit of resentment!’ You will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.

Source: Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

Knowledge: True Knowledge of God Comes Through Faith

Hey! How are you? I hope all is well!

I’m really excited to be getting into this book its blessed me a lot hope it’s doing the same to you.

So here we are continuing our discussion on J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology.

Understanding basic theological truths is important in the life of the believer. Again I reiterate what J.I Packer says,

theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. “

KNOWLEDGE

TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD COMES THROUGH FAITH

“But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

JEREMIAH 9:24

In 1 Timothy 6:20-21 Paul warns Timothy against “what is falsely called knowledge (Greek gnosis), which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.” Paul is attacking theosophical and religious tendencies that developed into Gnosticism in the second century a.d. Teachers of these beliefs and practices told believers to see their Christian commitment as a somewhat confused first step along the road to “knowledge,” and urged them to take more steps along that road. But these teachers viewed the material order as worthless and the body as a prison for the soul, and they treated illumination as the complete answer to human spiritual need. They denied that sin was any part of the problem, and the “knowledge” they offered had to do only with spells, celestial passwords, and disciplines of mysticism and detachment. They reclassified Jesus as a supernatural teacher who had looked human, though he was not; the Incarnation and the Atonement they denied, and replaced Christ’s call to a life of holy love with either prescriptions for asceticism or permission for licentiousness. Paul’s letters to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 4:1-7; 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:1-9); Jude 4, 8-19; 2 Peter 2; and John’s first two letters (1 John 1:5-10; 2:9-11, 18-29; 3:7-10; 4:1-6, 5:1-12; 2 John 7-11) are explicitly opposing beliefs and practices that would later emerge as Gnosticism.

By contrast, Scripture speaks of “knowing” God as the spiritual person’s ideal: namely, the fullness of a faith-relationship that brings salvation and eternal life and generates love, hope, obedience, and joy. (See, for example, Exod. 33:13; Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:8-12; Dan. 11:32; John 17:3; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 1:17-19; 3:19; Phil. 3:8-11; 2 Tim. 1:12.) The dimensions of this knowledge are intellectual (knowing the truth about God: Deut. 7:9; Ps. 100:3); volitional (trusting, obeying, and worshiping God in terms of that truth); and moral (practicing justice and love: Jer. 22:16; 1 John 4:7-8).

Faith-knowledge focuses on God incarnate, the man Christ Jesus, the mediator between God and us sinners, through whom we come to know his Father as our Father (John 14:6). Faith seeks to know Christ and his power specifically (Phil. 3:8-14).

Faith’s knowledge is the fruit of regeneration, the bestowal of a new heart (Jer. 24:7; 1 John 5:20), and of illumination by the Spirit (2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:17). The knowledge-relationship is reciprocal, implying covenantal affection on both sides: we know God as ours because he knows us as his (John 10:14; Gal. 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:19).

All Scripture has been given to help us know God in this way. Let us labor to use it for its proper purpose.

Source: Packer, J. I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

General Revelation: God’s Reality is Know To All

Hey everyone! Here we are in day five of Concise Theology from J.I. Packer.

Understanding basic theological truths is important in the life of the believer. Again I will reiterate what J.I Packer says,

theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. “

GENERAL REVELATION

GOD’S REALITY IS KNOWN TO ALL

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

PSALM 19:1

God’s world is not a shield hiding the Creator’s power and majesty. (Duh! Just look at the picture above God made that galaxy.) From the natural order it is evident that a mighty and majestic Creator is there. Paul says this in Romans 1:19-21, and in Acts 17:28 he calls a Greek poet as witness that humans are divinely created. Paul also affirms that the goodness of this Creator becomes evident from kindly providences (Acts 14:17; cf. Rom. 2:4), and that some at least of the demands of his holy law are known to every human conscience (Rom. 2:14-15), along with the uncomfortable certainty of eventual retributive judgment (Rom. 1:32). These evident certainties constitute the content of general revelation.

General revelation is so-called because everyone receives it, just by virtue of being alive in God’s world.

This has been so from the start of human history. God actively discloses these aspects of himself to all human beings, so that in every case failure to thank and serve the Creator in righteousness is sin against knowledge, and denials of having received this knowledge should not be taken seriously. God’s universal revelation of his power, praiseworthiness, and moral claim is the basis of Paul’s indictment of the whole human race as sinful and guilty before God for failing to serve him as we should (Rom. 1:18–3:19).

God has now supplemented general revelation with the further revelation of himself as Savior of sinners through Jesus Christ. This revelation, given in history and embodied in Scripture, and opening the door of salvation to the lost, is usually called special or specific revelation. It includes explicit verbal statement of all that general revelation tells us about God, and teaches us to recognize that revelation in the natural order, in the events of history, and in the makeup of human beings, so that we learn to see the entire world as, in Calvin’s phrase,

a theatre of the glory of God.

Amen! I will be adding another blog post on this topic General Revelation vs. Special Revelation that doesn’t come from J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology but I think it’s interesting and important to understand. Hope it’s not too confusing and you are learning! :)

Source: Packer, J. I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez