The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on God’s role and our role in our progressive salvation.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 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, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Observations and reflections
- To get a more accurate grip on what Paul is saying, briefly summerise his exhortation above in each paragraph:
- Verses 1-4
- Verses 5-8
- Verses 9-11
- Verses 12-13
- We will focus on the last paragraph (v12-13):
- Does this scripture teach salvation should be earned? Why / why not?
- What “work” regarding our salvation should the believers do? (Consider the context of the instruction)
- Why does he say qualify the “working out” with the phrase “with fear and trembling”? [hint: consider the context – also verses 9-11]
- What “work” does God do regarding our [ongoing] salvation according to verse 13?
- What does Paul mean with “to will and to act in order to fulfill his purpose”? (verse 13). Say this in your own words.
- What role does Paul, the Apostle, plays in the ongoing salvation of the Philippians, according to verses 12-13? And what does that suggest about the role of other believers (and in particular church leadership) in ongoing salvation of believers in general?
Application and prayer
Take a moment and reflect on God’s ongoing process of salvation in your life [a.k.a holiness or sanctification].
- PAST: Think about a specific spiritual victory in your life, such as overcoming a particular sinful habit or notable character flaw.
- What steps have you taken in the past to overcome?
- In retrospect, can you recognize the work of God to give you the desire and ability to grow in holiness in that particular instance? Describe it.
- What role did other believers play in growing this steps towards holiness?
- What desires for holiness or God’s purpose for your life can you articulate at present? (One clear example will suffice).
- What steps must you take to respond to God’s work in your life in this instance?
- What help do you need from Christian leaders or friends?
- Send a message to an accountability partner / Christian friend and tell him/ her about this prompting of God, your intention and then ask for help.
Thank God for the areas where he worked in you to give the desire and ability to fulfill his will. Celebrate the growth in Christlikeness! Again, pray “that Christ may be formed in you” (Galatians 4:19) – then commit to “work out your [gift of] salvation” in light of Christ’s return, and ask God for his empowerment and wisdom to complete His work in you!