"SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD" By Working Out Our Own Salvation (Ph 2:12 ) INTRODUCTION 1. Faced with the challenge of living in "the midst of a crooked and perverse generation", it is natural that we wish to react against it 2. But how shall we do it? In our first lesson I suggested that we "work out our own salvation" first! a. Otherwise, we may jeopardize our own salvation in HOW we react b. As I fear many are doing in the way they are trying to change others 3. In talking about "working out our own salvation", perhaps a word or two is in order before we actually begin... a. We should remember that we are "saved by grace through faith, not of works" - cf. Ep 2:8-9 b. But as those saved through faith without meritorious works on our part (though we did have to respond to the gospel with its conditions of faith, repentance, confession and baptism), we have been "created in Christ Jesus for good works" - Ep 2:10 c. As Paul told Titus in Ti 3:1-8 ... 1) We are to be ready for every good work - 1 2) Though we were not saved by works of righteousness - 5 3) But were saved through the mercy of God bestowed in the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (a reference to baptism) - 5 4) Therefore those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works - 8 d. Why the need to be careful? 1) Because though we were not saved by good works... 2) We can lose our salvation if we with God's help do not produce them! (as we see later in this lesson) [How then should those who are saved "not of works" go about "working out their own salvation"? I would suggest two major thoughts, the first one being...] I. DEVELOP A CHRIST-LIKE "CHARACTER" A. BY GROWING IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST... 1. As Peter admonished in 2 Pe 3:17-18 , as an antidote to falling away 2. In 2 Pe 1:5-11 Peter defines what is involved: a. Developing "Christ-like" qualities - 5-8 b. It requires diligence, and an ever-increasing growth in these graces - 5,8 c. To lack these things jeopardizes our entrance into the "everlasting kingdom of our Lord" - 9-11 d. Thus the need for "diligence" on our part! - 5,10 B. BY PUTTING OFF THE OLD MAN, AND PUTTING ON THE NEW MAN... 1. As Paul wrote in Co 3:1-17 to the Colossians 2. As we examine this text, we see that it involves... a. Setting our minds on things above - 1-4 b. Stop doing the things upon which God's wrath is going to come one day - 5-9 c. Putting on the "new man", which is according to the "image of Christ" - 10-11 d. Developing "Christ-like" qualities - 12-14 e. Allowing "God's peace" to rule in thankful hearts - 15 f. Letting "Christ's word" to dwell in us richly, through singing - 16 g. Doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus - 17 [By developing such Christ-like "character", we will not only save ourselves, but we will truly "shine as lights in the world"! And that is because we are simply reflecting in our lives the glory of Christ that shines in our own hearts. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Co 4) In our efforts to change others, are we coming across as "preaching Christ" or "preaching ourselves"? Developing a Christ-like "character" will go along way, not only to work out our salvation, but to effectively preach Christ! In the above passage (2 Co 4:5 ), Paul intimates that in one sense we ARE to preach ourselves. That is, as "your SERVANTS for Jesus' sake". This leads to our second point as to how we can "work out our own salvation"; that we...] II. DEVELOP A CHRIST-LIKE "SERVICE" A. FULFILL YOUR FUNCTION IN THE BODY OF CHRIST... 1. As Paul admonishes in Ro 12:1-8 2. We have a "reasonable service" to perform, which is to "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" 1-2 3. To do this effectively... a. We need to maintain a proper spirit of humility - 3 b. We need to remember that the body of Christ has many members but they don't all have the same function - 4-5 c. We need to exercise whatever "gifts" we have - 6-8 1) For some it may be a form of teaching 2) For others it may be a form of serving B. MINISTER YOUR "GIFT" AS A GOOD STEWARD OF GOD'S MANIFOLD GRACE... 1. Notice what Peter said in 1 Pe 4:10-11 2. Each person has a "gift" to minister to others - 10 3. Because God's grace is "manifold" (multi-faceted), we should expect some diversity in our service - 10 4. But everyone is to be a "good steward", which means we will one day have to answer for what we did - cf. the parable of the Talents - Mt 25:14-30 5. So let us exercise our "gifts" (or service) in such a way as to glorify God through Jesus Christ! - 11 CONCLUSION 1. Much more could be said, but developing a Christ-like "character" and "service" will go a long way in "working out our own salvation" 2. And "working out our own salvation" in this way will certainly help us to "shine as lights in the world"! Are you being "careful to maintain good works"? (Ti 3:8 ) Remember what Paul wrote about Jesus' death on the cross... Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Ti 2:14 ) Are YOU "zealous of good works", or did Jesus die in vain in YOUR case?