One in Purpose

Sunday, October 19, 2014, 6:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Give God the Glory.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 2:1–18 (NIV84).

United With Christ

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Being united with Christ, by God’s grace, through faith, should bring us great encouragement. We have been forgiven of our sins, set free from the control of sin over our lives, set free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness in the power and working of His Spirit within us, set free from eternal punishment in hell, and we have been given the hope of eternal life with God, both now and forevermore, amen! We have his Holy Spirit living within us, daily encouraging, counseling, instructing, comforting, nurturing, sustaining, strengthening, assuring, and giving us courage, determination and perseverance in our faith, and in our testimonies for Christ, even in the face of strong opposition.

Since we have this hope, and since we have this encouragement, then, as followers of Christ, we are to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. So, how do we do that, since we are individual people with varied thoughts and opinions? The key is in understanding what unites us, and whose mind we are to be like. We are to be like Jesus in thought, word and deed. We are to adopt his ways, attitudes, and values, etc. as our own. We are to follow his teachings, and we are to submit to his will for our lives, and then to allow his love to work his will in us and through us for his purposes and for his glory. When we follow Jesus and his word, and we adopt his ways, and we make them our ways by surrendering our lives over to him, and we are like-minded with him in spirit and purpose, then we should also be like-minded with one another in the same respect.

Yet, not all who claim to be Christians are united with Christ in love and in purpose, but many professors of Christ are rather uniting themselves with the philosophies and values of humans, and of this world, and are thus asking us to unite with them. May that never be! If we are to truly be like-minded with one another, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, then we must first of all unite ourselves with Christ, his word, his thoughts, his love and his purposes for our lives. And, we must test everything we read, see and hear against the Word of truth to make sure it does not contradict with Christ and his word, and to make sure the mind we are adopting is not that of humans instead of Christ.

When we are united with Christ in this way, we will consider the good of others over our own comfort and security, and we will look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. I believe this is speaking here, not of us being interested necessarily in others’ hobbies, activities and personal pursuits, but rather this is speaking of us looking to the welfare of others, considering what is in their best interest, i.e. to what will ultimately benefit them for their good. This means that we care about other people enough to share with them the gospel of salvation, for that is why Jesus Christ died. And, it means that we care enough about them to tell them the truth of God’s Word, but it also means we care about their sicknesses, pains, sorrows, and joys, with the goal of bringing healing to them.

Our Attitude

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Our attitude has to do with our viewpoint on certain values, morals, and behaviors, or on others’ thoughts and opinions, or on the teachings of scripture, or about humanistic teaching, or concerning how we are being treated, etc. It encompasses our outlook on life, in general, our approach to particular situations, and/or our feelings about certain matters.

We are to have the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ with regard to our rights, and with regard to putting others and their needs above our own. Jesus is God the Son. He was in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, and yet he willingly left all the glory of heaven to come to earth, to take on the appearance of a human being, and to humble himself by being willing to die on a cross for our sins so that we could go free. And, we should be willing, as well, to suffer disgrace, to be hated, to be mistreated, to be falsely accused and even to die for our testimony for Christ and for his gospel in order for us to share the only hope of salvation with others so that they, too, can go free.

God Who Works

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

For those of us who are strong proponents of the gospel of grace, this passage of scripture may cause confusion or concern, yet I believe, if understood in context, that it should alleviate all those apprehensions.

We do not work to earn or to deserve our salvation, but our salvation is not absent of works. We generally like to quote Ephesians 2:8-9 as our proof text for the gospel of grace, and that not of works, and yet how many go on to read verse 10 which says:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When the Bible describes our salvation, it speaks of it in terms of us having been saved, that we are being saved, and that when Christ returns, and our salvation is complete, that we will be saved. This may present theological issues for the OSAS folks, but it shouldn’t, for our salvation is not just a one-time experience which gets us a ticket into heaven when we die. Our salvation is a life in Jesus Christ to be lived out by his grace through faith every day of our lives. We are not saved merely to escape hell and so we can go to heaven when we die with nothing in between. We are saved from the control of sin over our lives on a day-to-day basis, and we are set free to now be under the control of the Spirit within us, and to now be slaves of righteousness (See Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14 & 1 Jn. 1-5).

When we accept God’s salvation, and we choose to put our trust in Jesus Christ for our lives, we invite his Lordship over our lives. We submit to his will and to his purposes, i.e. we choose to walk in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives. We do not become puppets on a string and thus lose our free will to choose right and wrong. We must daily take up our cross and follow Christ (See: Lu. 9:23-25). Every day of my life I must choose to follow Christ or to go my own way. I don’t lose my salvation every time I sin, but I also know that salvation requires death with Christ to my sin, and that there will be those to whom Christ will one day say, “I never knew you.” If we say we love God, and we claim to be in fellowship with him, yet we continue to walk in sin, he says we are liars, and that we don’t truly know him. So, our salvation is a daily walk of faith, too, allowing and cooperating with God’s work within us “to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Shine Like Stars

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Just as the stars in heaven above show forth the wisdom of God and tell of his love, grace, and mercy, and just as his created works declare the glory of God to all who live on the earth, and just as they call us to worship the God of heaven above (See: Ps. 19; cf. Ro. 1), so the Word of God speaks truth to our hearts and invites us to faith in Jesus Christ, and so his saints are to shine like the stars in the universe in holding out the Word of life to the people of this world. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth in spreading the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the earth by our lifestyles, our values, our actions and by our words, and as we hold fast to the truth of the word and we defend it against all opposing forces.

Yet, as we do this, we are to avoid whining and quarreling with people. Certainly we are to stand strong in our faith, we are to contend for the faith, and we are to stand strong against the devil’s schemes by daily putting on the armor of God. As well, we are to be strong, bold and courageous in sharing our faith, and we should never agree to compromise our faith in order to make peace. And, yet we must guard against senseless and foolish arguments which serve no valuable purpose. We must know that we will be hated, that people are going to disagree with us, that they will even accuse us of heart motivation that is not ours, and that, when we stand on the word of truth, we will be accused of being hateful, uncaring, unconcerned, intolerant and bigoted, yet we must continue to stand strong, but in love.

Give God the Glory / An Original Work
Based off Psalm 19 / March 10, 2014

All of creation now proclaims:
“Give God the glory; honor His name!”
Each day the stars in heav’n above
Show forth His wisdom; tell of His love.

They do not speak. They have no voice.
Yet, they declare we have a choice:
“Worship the God of heav’n above;
Believe in Jesus; trust in His love.”

God’s word is perfect, just and good,
Refreshing souls who trust in the Lord;
Makes wise the simple; radiant -
Lighting our lives with God’s righteousness.

Joy to the heart His words now speak;
Pure and enduring, now we seek.
They are more precious than our gold;
Sweeter than honey; never grow old.

Keeping the word brings great reward.
By the word Jesus speaks and He warns,
Convicting hearts of all their sin;
Forgiving all who call upon Him.

Praying You keep me, Lord, from sins.
May they not rule my life again.
Then will I walk in all Your ways,
Following Jesus all of my days.