What Was Paul Really Saying?

Out of all of the Pauline epistles the letter to the Philippians has a particular tender tone. I imagine that writing it while incarcerated in Rome and missing his friends went along way to showing his deep tenderness though, without doubt the church at Philippi were very dear to him.

But today I want to focus on chapter two verses twelve of his letter and frame our discussion in a question; what was Paul saying?

Let’s take a look.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

It’s the later part of his statement that I wrestle with today… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

I’ve devoted allot of reflection even as a younger Christian on this statement. I’ve heard this preached in and out of context (way out of context) and I’ve glossed over his edification as a passing statement in order to segue to greater truths.

I used to suppose that Paul’s statement was referencing a journey, my Christian walk along the way as I grow in grace and revelation. On deeper reflection I’ve come to realise that working out our own salvation is not a journey but a discipline. It’s more a decision to studiously work on what I believe and know about who God is, discovering what His plan is for me and how I might live. Learning what I’ve come to believe and then questioning why I continue to believe what I’ve learnt (consider 2 Timothy 2:15).

Matthew Henry interrupts the Apostle this way… “He (Paul) exhorts them to diligence and seriousness in the Christian course. It concerns us above all things to secure the welfare of our souls: whatever becomes of other things, let us take care of our best interests. It is our own salvation.”

Consider 3 John 1:2 and ponder ‘as your soul prospers.’ As we continue to navigate the first part of a New Year I’m even more aware that my soul’s heath is in my hands as much as it is in God’s hands.

I think Paul was telling the Philippians that they had a share of the responsibility to invest in their well-being. The Christian walk is not just a journey but a discipline to invest in and work on our salvation.

Did Spurgeon Know Something We Don’t?

Hello everyone – it’s been a while!

I recently read a book of essays, sermons of the great Charles Spurgeon that where  faithfully and studiously put together in a book called The Silent Shades of Sorrow. I highly recommend this book, it will challenge and build you as you walk your road towards the person God has called you to be.

While reading I felt a lingering suspicion that these old guys caught something that we have either dropped or simply forgotten. It could be just the way they said it or maybe they knew something we don’t – whatever the case tapping into their ministry is an investment that will yield a certain return.

An excerpt to illustrate my point:

“I charge you by His wounded feet – run to His help! I charge you by the scar on His side – give Him your heart! I charge you by the sacred head once pierced with thorns – yield Him your thoughts! I charge you by the shoulders which bore the scourges – bend your whole strength to His service! I charge you by Himself give Him yourself! I charge you by the left hand which has been under your head, and the right hand which has embraced you, by the roes and banquets of love, render yourself, your heart, your soul, your strength to Him! Live in His service, and die in His service! Lay not down you harness, but work on as long as you shall live. While you live let this be your motto- “All for Jesus, all for Jesus; all for the Man of Sorrows, all for the Man of Sorrows!”

I can’t begin to weight or measure the height and depth of these words and their significance.

He goes on…

“O you that love Him and fight for Him, you are summoned to the front! Hasten to the conflict, I pray you, and charge home for the “Man of Sorrows!” Make this your battle cry today! Slink not back like cowards! Flee not to you homes as lovers of ease, but press to the front for the “Man of Sorrows,” like good men, and true. By the Cross which bore Him, and by the heavy Cross He bore; by His death agony, and by the agony of His life, I cry, “Forward, for the Man of Sorrows!” Write this word, “For the Man of Sorrows,” on your own bodies, wherein you bear the marks of the Lord Jesus! Brand, if not in you flesh, yet in your souls, for from now on you are servant of the Man of Sorrows!”

I don’t know about you but this seems like a good place to start the New Year and committing to this charge I may learn to know what Spurgeon Knew.

Bless ya,

Nathan