Every time you attend a Christmas or Easter church service, perhaps you have been challenged or encouraged to share the gospel with your loved ones or friends. It could have been in the past or even during a time like this coming weekend, as we spend more time reflecting or focusing on the gospel and the message of the cross.
Paul writes about this in Phil. 2:12-13, “Therefore, my dear friends ... 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.” There is an amazing balance of responsibility when it comes to our salvation, the work of the gospel in our lives. On one hand, God tells us in His Word to “work out” our salvation, and yet on the other hand, He reminds us that it is He who “works in” us to will and act out His purposes. It is the ultimate truth that at the end of the day, it is both God and us that works for the sake of His glory.
What does it mean to “work out” our salvation? A quote often attributed to Francis of Assisi sums it up this way, “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” Our lives, and all that we are and do, not just our words, should represent and reflect Christ and His gospel message. Do our words and our lives match up? Are people stumbled because we say one thing, but we do another? Do our actions scream out way more glaringly our values and what we believe in, more than what we claim to profess? How can the message and the messenger be more aligned, more congruent, more consistent?
Simultaneously, we need to acknowledge and recognize that it is God who “works in” us, to direct our hearts, head and hands for His kingdom purposes. If not, then we labour and toil in vain as we would only rely on and depend on our own strength, wisdom and abilities. Yet it is also a challenge as it would involve surrendering our own will to God's will. Jesus said, “Yet not my will, but Yours be done.” What does God want for us to give up, let go or lay at the cross, so that God can work in and through us to accomplish all He has willed and purposed for our life?
As we step out of church today, may we experience more of His joy and grace through the gift of salvation and allow the gospel to grow and resound in our hearts, and through us, to the ends of the earth, to the praise of His glory.