Jumat, 31 Juli 2009

Fear and Trembling

Fear and Trembling

By Don Walker basileia2009@yahoo.com

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil.2:12-13).
The Greek word we have translated as "work out" is an intensive form of the word for work or labor. It means to work at something thoroughly, to bring something to full and complete conclusion, and so has the idea of accomplish or to bring something about. It could be used to describe the work of the farmer who works through the year to bring seeds to their full harvest.

Here in our text it means that we work out our salvation to the fullest in every area of life leaving no stone unturned. It means that we do not grow slack or stop half way, keep going until all that Christ died to achieve has been worked in you.
It should be noted that this is not speaking of working for salvation! It is written to those who are believers and now are to work out the life that has been planted in them. This is perfectly described by Paul in Ephesians 2.8-10. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Salvation is gift from beginning to end received through the faith. But the result is the Holy Spirit recreating and fitting us to walk in good works. Not saved by good works, but saved to do them. It should be noted that "good works" are in fact "God works" that are performed from the life of God within us.

An Old Testament expression that Paul uses is “fear and trembling”. It describes great weakness, the sense of inability and the total lack of confidence in and distrust we have of our own flesh. For example, if all we have is our own human ability the prospect of loving of one another with the love of God is terrifying to contemplate. When we consider our natural resources of love we shrink away from the task with fear and trembling. It is the response of the person who truly understands the words of Jesus when He said, "without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

It describes the man who must pay his bills but has no money in the bank. He views what he has to do with fear. It fits with the first statement of the beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit." (Matthew 5:3). A translation that gives the full meaning of the Greek text is, "Blessed are the spiritually bankrupt." i.e. "Blessed are those who tremble when they consider their own resources." True faith begins with a reality check that tells me that in myself I have nothing.

There is urgency to our “working out”; we are dealing with eternal issues. We live on the fragile edge of time; in this lifetime we are called to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12), and we do not know when we shall be called from this life. The humanistic attitude, acting as if we shall live in this life forever, has crept in among believers. There is little or no thought to the urgency regarding the task that we have been given of working out our salvation now before we stand before the judgment seat of Christ. But when we consider the brevity of our lives, and the fact that right now counts forever, it is a healthy thing to tremble.

We should not look at this reaction as a sign of immaturity, just the opposite. The text indicates that we supposed to feel that way! If we do not feel this way then we must be challenged to think of our selves according to the truth. If we feel that we are “God’s man of faith and power,” we are living in the deceptive illusion of our strength. We loathe our insufficiency and weakness. Our flesh always wants to feel in control and self-sufficient. But to live in the reality of our insufficiency and embrace our weakness, is to understand what Paul meant when he said, "When I am weak, then I am strong" (II Cor. 12:10).

If we do not fear proceeding in our own strength then God will let us “crash and burn” in order to destroy our confidence in ourselves. Our failures are very important to God! We must discover in our experience the inability of our flesh to please God. Our dependence upon Him is of such importance that He would allow us to fall flat on our face in order to know we can do nothing without Him. Such failures therefore become redemptive.

Peter's fall is just this. The arrogant man in the Upper Room is of no use to any one for he is depending only on Peter. Jesus actively allows Satan to “sift him like wheat” in order that all of Peter’s self confidence would be shattered. When it is all over Peter was in a position to strengthen his brothers (See Luke 22:31-34).

Jacob had to wrestle with God and lose in order to become Israel.

Moses was unusable while he trusted in his own ability. Only when he confessed his helplessness, looking upon the task with fear and trembling could God use him.

God will use every situation to bring us to be among the blessed that are poor in spirit. He will use the circumstances of life to strip us of our self sufficiency, our independence, and our self confidence. He wants to bring us to the end of ourselves. He commands us to do what is impossible apart from Him.
Back to a previous example, we are told by Jesus to “love your enemies” (Luke 6:35). Face it! We are not capable of loving, our wife or husband, or our friends, let alone our enemies. In addition, in our flesh we are incapable of faith, obedience, serving others, or any other aspect of the Christian life. But have we realized the impossibility of the task? The disciples, after hearing Jesus say that “it is more difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” asked, "Who then can be saved?" and Jesus answered "With men it is impossible." He then tells the miracle of salvation "With God all things are possible" (Luke 18:24-27).

We are being called to obey the impossible command and work out the impossible life. And the hope of our salvation is that He is going to do it (Phil. 2:13).

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