Chapter 2:12-13, The Study - "It is God Who is at work in you"
"He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

J. Deering,

At this time it is important that we look to the verses ahead as filling some needs that the Philippians had.

First, we need to take note of the Philippian's need for unity among the believers there. Second, we need to take not of the Philippian's need to know that it is God who is at work in them.

Also note that Every Requirement of God is Good - by definition.

Abraham, always the friend of God, given the covenant and promise that Isaac would be the one who would fulfill the promises of the Land, the People, and the Nation - That all the world would be blessed through him. God said, "Slay him." No matter the circumstances, no matter the request, what God requires to be done is GOOD.

God brought Israel into captivity by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. All of the deaths, all of the suffering, everything that was required by God would have to be classified as GOOD.

All of these things, and many more, brought the fulfillment of time when Jesus the Christ would die for the salvation of willing mankind - all GOOD.

So when God the Father goes to God the Son and says I need to to die, it is GOOD. And the Son of God puts Himself aside and willingly dies at the Father's request, and it is GOOD.

So then,
my beloved,
just as you have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,

Paul starts with telling us that the example for the following will be Christ Jesus, for it is He who obeyed.

We'll take these seven verses a little-bit-at-a-time. Paul begins here with five verses on how wonderful it would be if the Body of Christ, at Philippi, would acquire UNITY and accomplish certain things. These "things" would make Paul's ministry with them complete.

How heartwarming is Paul's statement. We who are parents know the joy of children who not only obey when in our sight - but obey when out of our sight. Even more so, adult children who, after they have left the nest, cling to those biblical principles learned in the home.

It had been 10 years since Paul's last visit and the Philippians never varied in their faith. They never stop loving Paul and his message - they have continued to be obedient to Christ, to the power of the Holy Spirit, and the will of the Father.

This matter of obedience to God is the topic of the very next clause.

(So then...) work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
2:13 for it is God who is at work in you,
to will and
to work
for His good pleasure.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to: "glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever." How wonderful is that? However many who read those words ignore the further definitions required to glorify Him.

For, "The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him." "The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man." (The Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1647).

Therein lays the secret to "work out your salvation." It is not that your salvation relies upon works. That issue was satisfied by the "work" of Christ, done for you "once for all" so that your works were to be considered as worthless in this issue of attaining God's precious salvation. No, this verse speaks of the works of obedience that are the result of salvation - giving your life back to God in gratitude for what He has done through His working in and through you, accomplishing His will in and through you, as He is pleased by you and the things He accomplishes through you.

We are to approach the will of God with "fear and trembling." Kenneth Wuest says, "with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling" (Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament - an Expanded Translation, Eerdmans, 1970).

My father was a big, burley, hard working man. He was born in 1907, just after the turn of the century. By the time he had made his mark as a young man, he lost everything in the great economic crash of 1929. He eventually found work with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and took the position of carpentry instructor at a boy's reform school. He was gruff, big and strong, many of the other men with whom he worked feared him - quick Irish temper. He never placed a hand upon me, he was always gentle and kind with me, he did everything possible that he could do in my lifetime to see that I had what I needed. I feared that man. I did many things while he was alive that he had every right to discipline harshly - but he never did, but I always feared.

The Lord brought me to Himself when my dad was sixty-five years old. The Lord allowed me to lead both my dad and mom to Him when my dad was sixty-eight. In the twelve years that followed we became the very best of friends, not just friends but friends-in-the-Lord. I still feared him. Twenty-four years have passed since he went home to be with Jesus - I still fear him, for my fear is based upon my desire to never hurt him, never disappoint him, never do something or say something that would stir his anger. Not because I expect that he would punish me (unless I needed it) but because my waywardness would cause him pain. So it is with out "working out our salvation" with our Heavenly Father. Fearing Him in such a way that our utmost desire it to NOT cause Him pain, in any sense of the word.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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