SHINNING AS LIGHT IN THE WORLD PART 2



“SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”
 
               By Working Out Our Own Salvation (Php 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 Tit 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 2Pe 3:17-18, as an antidote to
         falling away
      2. In 2Pe 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 Col 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. (2Co 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 (2Co 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 1Pe 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”? (Tit 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. (Tit 2:14)
 
Are YOU “zealous of good works”, or did Jesus die in vain in YOUR

SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD

          “SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”

      In The Midst Of A Crooked And Perverse Generation (Php 2:12-16)

INTRODUCTION

1. A grave concern to any thoughtful Christian is how quickly our

   society is changing, and clearly for the worse

2. As some theologians would describe it, we now live in a

   “post-Christian culture”

   a. This simply means that the old norms once held true are no longer

      accepted by the majority

   b. For example, people as a majority once believed in God, that the

      Bible was the Word of God, and that Jesus was the Son of God; but

      such is no longer the case

   c. The majority no longer accepts certain basic principles of

      morality taught in both the Old and New Testament, even ridiculing

      those people who do as “old-fashioned” and “un-enlightened”

3. That we live in a “post-Christian culture” is true both socially and

   religiously

   a. Socially, in that divorce, remarriage, living together without

      marriage, and homosexuality are now commonly accepted as

      “alternative lifestyles”

   b. Religiously, in that women in the role of church leadership,

      homosexual ministers, and various forms of “new age” religions are

      now accepted by many

4. How are Christians to react to this change in our society?

   a. What can we do to change the direction in which our society is

      heading?

      1) Should we form “political action committees” and try to change

         it using the organizational powers of the church?

      2) Should we resort to boycotts, picketing, or other forms of

         “economic blackmail”?

      3) Should we resort to violence, both verbal and physical, if

         necessary?

   b. What can we do to protect ourselves, and our children?

      1) Should we simply change our views to conform to those of

         society?

      2) Should we isolate ourselves, or form communes?

5. I believe that the Scriptures provide the correct answer, in a letter

   written by Paul to a church which, like many others in New Testament

   times, lived in a “PRE-Christian culture”

   a. The letter is the Epistle to the Philippians

   b. Written to Christians living in city heavily influenced by the

      Roman culture, with its paganism, intellectualism, and immorality

   c. What Paul wrote to them, is very likely the sort of things he

      would write today

   d. Especially the things mentioned in Php 2:12-16

6. This lesson is the first in a series designed to notice carefully

   what Paul wrote in this passage

   a. Which I believe contains guidance for Christians living “in the

      midst of a crooked and perverse generation”, whether then or now

   b. Providing directions, hope, and warnings which will help us to

      “shine as lights in the world”

[With this lesson, we shall simply touch upon those things we can glean

from this passage.  In succeeding lessons, we shall develop each point

more thoroughly.

For example, if we are going to shine as lights “in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must do so…]

I. BY WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION FIRST! (12a)

   A. AS JESUS PUT IT, “FIRST REMOVE THE PLANK FROM YOUR OWN EYE” – Mt

      7:1-6

      1. This passage, often misused to prevent any proper judging, is

         emphasizing the importance of “getting your own act together

         first”

      2. Notice, that once you have “removed the plank”, you can then

         (and should) be used to “remove the speck” in another’s eye

   B. IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE MAY LOSE OUR SALVATION IN THE WAY WE

      REACT TO OTHERS!

      1. Many people go about trying to change society for the better,

         using methods that will keep themselves out of the kingdom of

         God! – cf. Ga 5:19-21

      2. Paul saw the need to be very careful when trying to save others

         – cf. 1Co 9:27

[How tragic it would be, if when we go around preaching to others, do

it such a way as to “disqualify” ourselves!

We can be more careful, and “shine as lights in the world”, if we do

so…]

II. WITH “FEAR AND TREMBLING” (12b)

   A. THE WORD “FEAR” IN CONNECTION WITH GOD IS NOT POPULAR TODAY…

      1. Perhaps a reaction to the “hell, fire and brimstone” preaching

         of another generation

      2. But could it be that we have gone to the other extreme?

         a. Have we diluted the concept of the “fear of the Lord” by our

            definitions?

         b. To the point there is no place for “trembling” in our

            definition of fear?

      3. Jesus certainly taught the “fear of the Lord” – Mt 10:28

   B. THE NEED TO HAVE PROPER “FEAR AND TREMBLING”…

      1. Without it, it is unlikely we will seriously make the effort to

         “work out our own salvation”

      2. Could this be a reason there is so much apathy and

         fruitlessness in the church today?

[There may be another reason for such fruitlessness; and that is, if we

don’t “shine as lights in the world”…]

III. BY LETTING GOD WORK IN US (13)

   A. TO SUCCEED AS “LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”…

      1. It will be essential to let God do His work, something He is

         able to do beyond our ability to comprehend – Ep 3:20-21

      2. He is there “working in you”! – cf. Php 1:6

      3. How?  Both…

         a. To “will” – helping us in our motivation

         b. To “do” – helping us in our ability

   B. BUT IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE CAN EASILY…

      1. Quench God’s efforts to work in us

      2. Prevent God from using us altogether (at least for doing things

         for our own good)!

[Later, in another lesson, we shall examine how God is at work in us,

and what we can do to promote such activity on His part.

Another important element in our “shining as lights” is that we go

about our task…]

IV. WITHOUT MURMURING AND DISPUTING (14)

   A. BY MAINTAINING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE…

      1. Living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation can

         easily get us down, where we can become constant complainers

      2. But allowing that to happen will render us less effective

      3. And as with Israel, “murmuring” can lead to our own downfall

         – 1Co 10:10-12

   B. BY GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR BRETHREN…

      1. Unity among brethren is extremely important as we try to

         convince the world concerning Jesus – Jn 17:20-23

      2. Disputing with one another simply reveals we have some growing

         up to do! – 1Co 3:1-4

[If the “body of Christ” is going to influence the world the way it

should, it cannot be devouring itself through such destructive forces

like “murmuring” and “disputing” among themselves.

But also important is our relation to those in the world, and that they

truly see us…]

V. AS CHILDREN OF GOD WITHOUT FAULT (15)

   A. WHICH REQUIRES US TO BECOME “BLAMELESS”…

      1. Not that we are perfect, but like elders are to be blameless,

         we are to be “above reproach”

         a. We may be sinners, but we quickly confess our sins and make

            amends when it is called for

         b. We should live in such a way that we have no “outstanding

            faults” that are clearly evident to others

      2. Nothing hinders our ability to “shine as lights” like

         inconsistency and hypocrisy, especially that which is evident

         to all!

   B. IT ALSO REQUIRES US TO BE “HARMLESS”…

      1. Though we may firmly oppose sin in all forms, sinners should

         never fear bodily harm from us! – again cf. 2Ti 2:24-26

      2. Sadly, many so-called “Christians” appear to be using “Old

         Covenant” methods in their efforts to change others, and come

         across as likely to produce great bodily harm!

      3. But as Jesus said, we are to be “wise as serpents and harmless

         as doves” – Mt 10:16

[Finally, if we are to really “shine as lights in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must be…]

VI. HOLDING FAST THE WORD OF LIFE (16)

   A. REMEMBER, THE WORD OF GOD IS THE “SWORD OF THE SPIRIT”!

      1. It is the ONLY “offensive weapon” we have in the armor of God

         – Ep 6:10-17

      2. It is the instrument by which the Spirit convicts the world of

         sin, produces repentance and brings about the new birth – cf.

         Jm 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; Ro 1:16

      3. Thus it is truly the “word of life”!

   B. WE MUST BOTH “HOLD FAST” AND “HOLD FORTH” THIS POWERFUL WORD!

      1. Some translations say “hold fast”, others “hold forth”

      2. Both are called for, as we should:

         a. “Hold fast” the word in our own study and application

         b. “Hold forth” the word as we proclaim it to those we are

            trying to change

      3. In this, we would do well to follow the example of Ezra, and

         the order in which he applied himself – cf. Ezra 7:10

         a. To first “seek the Law of the Lord”

         b. Then “to do it”

         c. Finally, “to teach” others

CONCLUSION

1. In these verses, then, I believe we find the way Christians are to

   “shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”

2. It involves…

   a. Working out our own salvation

   b. With fear and trembling

   c. By letting God work in us

   d. Doing things without murmuring and disputing

   e. As children of God without fault

   f. Holding fast the word of life

3. If our ultimate objective is not just changing legislation, but the

   hearts of men to the ways of God, then this is how we can do it!

4. And this is how we will “rejoice in the day of Christ” — and know

   that our own labor will not be in vain! – cf. Php 2:16

We will expand upon these thoughts in succeeding lessons; but for now,

have you given serious thoughts as to how YOU shine in the world…?

          “SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”

      In The Midst Of A Crooked And Perverse Generation (Php 2:12-16)

INTRODUCTION

1. A grave concern to any thoughtful Christian is how quickly our

   society is changing, and clearly for the worse

2. As some theologians would describe it, we now live in a

   “post-Christian culture”

   a. This simply means that the old norms once held true are no longer

      accepted by the majority

   b. For example, people as a majority once believed in God, that the

      Bible was the Word of God, and that Jesus was the Son of God; but

      such is no longer the case

   c. The majority no longer accepts certain basic principles of

      morality taught in both the Old and New Testament, even ridiculing

      those people who do as “old-fashioned” and “un-enlightened”

3. That we live in a “post-Christian culture” is true both socially and

   religiously

   a. Socially, in that divorce, remarriage, living together without

      marriage, and homosexuality are now commonly accepted as

      “alternative lifestyles”

   b. Religiously, in that women in the role of church leadership,

      homosexual ministers, and various forms of “new age” religions are

      now accepted by many

4. How are Christians to react to this change in our society?

   a. What can we do to change the direction in which our society is

      heading?

      1) Should we form “political action committees” and try to change

         it using the organizational powers of the church?

      2) Should we resort to boycotts, picketing, or other forms of

         “economic blackmail”?

      3) Should we resort to violence, both verbal and physical, if

         necessary?

   b. What can we do to protect ourselves, and our children?

      1) Should we simply change our views to conform to those of

         society?

      2) Should we isolate ourselves, or form communes?

5. I believe that the Scriptures provide the correct answer, in a letter

   written by Paul to a church which, like many others in New Testament

   times, lived in a “PRE-Christian culture”

   a. The letter is the Epistle to the Philippians

   b. Written to Christians living in city heavily influenced by the

      Roman culture, with its paganism, intellectualism, and immorality

   c. What Paul wrote to them, is very likely the sort of things he

      would write today

   d. Especially the things mentioned in Php 2:12-16

6. This lesson is the first in a series designed to notice carefully

   what Paul wrote in this passage

   a. Which I believe contains guidance for Christians living “in the

      midst of a crooked and perverse generation”, whether then or now

   b. Providing directions, hope, and warnings which will help us to

      “shine as lights in the world”

[With this lesson, we shall simply touch upon those things we can glean

from this passage.  In succeeding lessons, we shall develop each point

more thoroughly.

For example, if we are going to shine as lights “in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must do so…]

I. BY WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION FIRST! (12a)

   A. AS JESUS PUT IT, “FIRST REMOVE THE PLANK FROM YOUR OWN EYE” – Mt

      7:1-6

      1. This passage, often misused to prevent any proper judging, is

         emphasizing the importance of “getting your own act together

         first”

      2. Notice, that once you have “removed the plank”, you can then

         (and should) be used to “remove the speck” in another’s eye

   B. IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE MAY LOSE OUR SALVATION IN THE WAY WE

      REACT TO OTHERS!

      1. Many people go about trying to change society for the better,

         using methods that will keep themselves out of the kingdom of

         God! – cf. Ga 5:19-21

      2. Paul saw the need to be very careful when trying to save others

         – cf. 1Co 9:27

[How tragic it would be, if when we go around preaching to others, do

it such a way as to “disqualify” ourselves!

We can be more careful, and “shine as lights in the world”, if we do

so…]

II. WITH “FEAR AND TREMBLING” (12b)

   A. THE WORD “FEAR” IN CONNECTION WITH GOD IS NOT POPULAR TODAY…

      1. Perhaps a reaction to the “hell, fire and brimstone” preaching

         of another generation

      2. But could it be that we have gone to the other extreme?

         a. Have we diluted the concept of the “fear of the Lord” by our

            definitions?

         b. To the point there is no place for “trembling” in our

            definition of fear?

      3. Jesus certainly taught the “fear of the Lord” – Mt 10:28

   B. THE NEED TO HAVE PROPER “FEAR AND TREMBLING”…

      1. Without it, it is unlikely we will seriously make the effort to

         “work out our own salvation”

      2. Could this be a reason there is so much apathy and

         fruitlessness in the church today?

[There may be another reason for such fruitlessness; and that is, if we

don’t “shine as lights in the world”…]

III. BY LETTING GOD WORK IN US (13)

   A. TO SUCCEED AS “LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”…

      1. It will be essential to let God do His work, something He is

         able to do beyond our ability to comprehend – Ep 3:20-21

      2. He is there “working in you”! – cf. Php 1:6

      3. How?  Both…

         a. To “will” – helping us in our motivation

         b. To “do” – helping us in our ability

   B. BUT IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE CAN EASILY…

      1. Quench God’s efforts to work in us

      2. Prevent God from using us altogether (at least for doing things

         for our own good)!

[Later, in another lesson, we shall examine how God is at work in us,

and what we can do to promote such activity on His part.

Another important element in our “shining as lights” is that we go

about our task…]

IV. WITHOUT MURMURING AND DISPUTING (14)

   A. BY MAINTAINING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE…

      1. Living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation can

         easily get us down, where we can become constant complainers

      2. But allowing that to happen will render us less effective

      3. And as with Israel, “murmuring” can lead to our own downfall

         – 1Co 10:10-12

   B. BY GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR BRETHREN…

      1. Unity among brethren is extremely important as we try to

         convince the world concerning Jesus – Jn 17:20-23

      2. Disputing with one another simply reveals we have some growing

         up to do! – 1Co 3:1-4

[If the “body of Christ” is going to influence the world the way it

should, it cannot be devouring itself through such destructive forces

like “murmuring” and “disputing” among themselves.

But also important is our relation to those in the world, and that they

truly see us…]

V. AS CHILDREN OF GOD WITHOUT FAULT (15)

   A. WHICH REQUIRES US TO BECOME “BLAMELESS”…

      1. Not that we are perfect, but like elders are to be blameless,

         we are to be “above reproach”

         a. We may be sinners, but we quickly confess our sins and make

            amends when it is called for

         b. We should live in such a way that we have no “outstanding

            faults” that are clearly evident to others

      2. Nothing hinders our ability to “shine as lights” like

         inconsistency and hypocrisy, especially that which is evident

         to all!

   B. IT ALSO REQUIRES US TO BE “HARMLESS”…

      1. Though we may firmly oppose sin in all forms, sinners should

         never fear bodily harm from us! – again cf. 2Ti 2:24-26

      2. Sadly, many so-called “Christians” appear to be using “Old

         Covenant” methods in their efforts to change others, and come

         across as likely to produce great bodily harm!

      3. But as Jesus said, we are to be “wise as serpents and harmless

         as doves” – Mt 10:16

[Finally, if we are to really “shine as lights in the midst of a

crooked and perverse generation”, we must be…]

VI. HOLDING FAST THE WORD OF LIFE (16)

   A. REMEMBER, THE WORD OF GOD IS THE “SWORD OF THE SPIRIT”!

      1. It is the ONLY “offensive weapon” we have in the armor of God

         – Ep 6:10-17

      2. It is the instrument by which the Spirit convicts the world of

         sin, produces repentance and brings about the new birth – cf.

         Jm 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; Ro 1:16

      3. Thus it is truly the “word of life”!

   B. WE MUST BOTH “HOLD FAST” AND “HOLD FORTH” THIS POWERFUL WORD!

      1. Some translations say “hold fast”, others “hold forth”

      2. Both are called for, as we should:

         a. “Hold fast” the word in our own study and application

         b. “Hold forth” the word as we proclaim it to those we are

            trying to change

      3. In this, we would do well to follow the example of Ezra, and

         the order in which he applied himself – cf. Ezra 7:10

         a. To first “seek the Law of the Lord”

         b. Then “to do it”

         c. Finally, “to teach” others

CONCLUSION

1. In these verses, then, I believe we find the way Christians are to

   “shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”

2. It involves…

   a. Working out our own salvation

   b. With fear and trembling

   c. By letting God work in us

   d. Doing things without murmuring and disputing

   e. As children of God without fault

   f. Holding fast the word of life

3. If our ultimate objective is not just changing legislation, but the

   hearts of men to the ways of God, then this is how we can do it!

4. And this is how we will “rejoice in the day of Christ” — and know

   that our own labor will not be in vain! – cf. Php 2:16

We will expand upon these thoughts in succeeding lessons; but for now, have you given serious thoughts as to how YOU shine in the world.