God at Work; Drive Carefully
“...for it is God who is at work in you ..."

By Jon W. Quinn

"Shining as lights in the world" is a daunting task, especially because we live in a world that appears to be becoming increasingly crooked and perverse. But the Scriptures provide both direction and hope. And we can help if we will serve as lights no matter how much the darkness grows.

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:12-16).

We need to “work out our own salvation” first! And we must not be casual about it; we need to do so “with fear and trembling”. But in verse 13 we see something that should give us great "hope": there we read the statement: "For it is God who works in you..." We are not alone in our efforts to "shine as lights in the world"! Similar thoughts are expressed elsewhere in this epistle: (Philippians 1:6; 4:13). Yes, there is "power" from God to aid us!

The Power Behind the Faithful
As Paul prayed in behalf of the brethren at Ephesus, along with other things, Paul wanted them to know "what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19). Note that Paul says this "power toward us" is "according to the working of the strength of His might” which He brought about "when He raised (Jesus) from the dead and seated Him at His right hand..."

The source of the power available to Christians is the same as that power used in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. Those who "were dead in trespasses and sins" God made "alive together with Christ...and raised us up together"! - (Ephesians 2:1-6). Paul cites many parallels between the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the conversion and life of the disciple (Romans 6:8-11; 3-7).

As Jesus illustrated in healing the paralytic, it is no more easier to forgive sins than to heal the lame. While only one is observable to the physical eyes both require Divine power! (Matthew 9:5,6).

We need this power. From it we gain the strength to deal with life: “ ...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…” (Ephesians 3:16) and to those who have faith He will “do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…” (Ephesians 3:20).

Consider the Source
As we have already seen, the source of this power is God's “Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16) and "it is God who works in you" (Philippians 2:13). The power's source is the Holy Spirit influencing the “inner man”. This had been promised by Jesus, and explained by John “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39).

Those who obeyed the gospel were promised the “gift of the Holy Spirit” on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39). Paul later discusses this as well (Romans 8:9-11); 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). We become “the dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). God in us becomes the source of our strength.

This strength is necessary if we are to successfully “work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2:12-13) and “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:12-13) and “glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And also note that God “works in you both to will and to do”… He provides strength not only to “do” but also the strength to “will” (Philippians 2:13).

Using the Power
One of the ways to put this power to use in our lives is to ask God for it. He will give endurance and wisdom to those who ask in faith (James 1:2-5).

It is good for God's children to ask Him for our needs (Matthew 7:7,8).

We also need to be willing and active in believing and obeying the word of God. We find strength this way. The Scriptures encourage us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might" as we are told to "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:10-13).

In this very context, the Word of God itself is called the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It is through reception of the Word into our hearts and lives that the Spirit instructs and motivates us, giving us knowledge of the right things to do and the strength to do them. It is this “Word of truth” through which we have been born again (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). Through this Word we will save our souls! (James 1:21).

If my light is not shining forth in a dark world, it is because I am denying the source of the power a proper place in my heart. If that is the case, I need to understand that it is a lack of faith on my part, not a lack of power available to me. If I lack the faith necessary to really access the power of God and make it useful in my life, then I need to change the focus of my trust. Look around! There is simply no place else to go. Only God's power can save me

The Word says “... for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” ( Philippians 2:13 ). This means God is pleased (“for His good pleasure”) to save us and empower us to be lights in the world. God is all for us. Trust Him! Commit yourselves to His purpose. Be a light in the midst of the darkness, and show forth the love of God.

From The Bradley Banner 11/25/2007
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway


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