Work Out Your Own
Posted on 11/14/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** There are no public prayer requests this week. ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
HIS NAME IS JESUS
He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Oh -- He is the King
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
to deliver evermore
I STAND IN AWE
You are beautiful beyond description
too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
majesty enthroned above
I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you
WORD OF GOD SPEAK
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Praise the Lord. As we mentioned during prayer, today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It's been reported that Christians are persecuted like no other people group. And the reason for this is obvious. It goes back to what Jesus said in John chapter 15, verses 18 through 21:
John 15:18-21 (NKJV)
18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me."
Being on YouTube, I run across a lot of very angry people who blame their anger on the Bible and those stupid Christians who believe it. If I had been keeping a record, I would have lost count of the number of times people have wished me dead, and have heaped every imaginable insult on me, blaming the Bible and "people like me" for every single evil in the world.
But it's not me they hate. It's Jesus. You see, the hatred and persecution of Jesus didn't die out when Jesus was laid in that borrowed tomb. It didn't become just a memory when He ascended into heaven. Instead, it has grown just as steadily as the Church has grown. And mankind could never in a million years evolve beyond hating Jesus.
Lots of people say they like or even love Him. But they hate who we say He is, who the Bible says He is, the TRUE Jesus. I've seen followers of the true Jesus be called things on YouTube such as "those intollerant haters who take the Bible literally." They don't hate the false Jesus they've created in their own image. But the real Jesus, they hate with a passion.
But I'll tell you the truth: I don't mind getting called every name in the book on YouTube. There are brothers and sisters in other countries who are being tortured and killed; whose families have been captured; whose wives have been raped; who are in constant fear for their lives and for the lives of those they love.
If you can sit in front of a computer listening to me speak right now, you are living in paradise compared to what other Christians have to face. No matter how enormous you might think your problems are, no matter how much you think no one could possibly have it worse, and no one understand, there are believers who would gladly switch places with you in a heartbeat, and would be SO thankful to God for all your blessings that YOU throw aside to feel sorry for yourself.
I'm not trying to be mean. I just hope and pray that we can see past ourselves today just long enough to realize how good we have it, especially compared to those who are truly pouring out their lives as a living sacrifice for Jesus. They're not looking for what they can gain; rather, their eyes are upon Jesus and on how they can please Him more and stay true to His name.
I encourage you to set aside some time today to pray for the persecuted Church. There are some other events happening in Second Life, one of them right after this service, and I've placed a landmark in the notecard. I hope you'll go and lift your voice in prayer. It's the least we can do. And it's also the most important thing we could do.
Today's message has nothing to do with that subject. Instead, for the next few minutes, I'd like for us to challenge our own perspectives. And the title of today's message is, "Work Out Your Own."
Philippians 2:12 (KMV) says this:
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Now I don't know about you, but when I've read this verse in the past, my attention has always been drawn to the "fear and trembling" part. But today, let's talk about another part of this verse.
First, let's take a look at the meanings of the original words used to form this verse in English.
"Work out" means to render yourself fit for something. Are you fit for Salvation? We know that Salvation comes to those who are NOT fit. But after we have been born again, we should start doing our best to live lives that are fitting that Salvation.
"Your own." This means yours, no one else's. So many times, we start thinking we are somehow mature enough to start judging others. Some of us tell them what to eat, what to drink, and what to wear. They have to listen to this, they can't listen to that. They have to pray the way that seems right to us. They have to use the words WE use when baptising someone, or that someone isn't really saved.
They can't meditate, because we somehow think that's occult. They have to speak in tongues, because we perceive that as being the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. They can't dance during worship in Church, or they HAVE to dance if they're really saved.
Most of these examples are a bit extreme for most of us. But if we're honest with ourselves, I think we've all judged others because what they do or say doesn't conform to our own understanding of the Scriptures, or with what we've been taught. And while we're condeming them, whether out loud or to ourselves, we become blind to our own problems -- our own pride, our own misunderstandings, and the stuff we have added or taken away from what the Bible really says.
If I believed everything people have come to me insisting is right or wrong, sometimes declaring themselves prophets, sometimes just insisting that if I had any discernment at all I'd know it's true, what would my belief system look like?
I'll give you an idea. Many of the things I'm about to say have been told to me directly by people who insist I'm a heathen or a deceiver because I believe something else. Some of the things I'm about to say might be true, but could be argued against using other Scriptures. And some of the things may be true, but I'll mention them in a list of other things people have insisted are true, often using Scripture.
If I accepted the rebukes of every Christian insisting I must believe what they believe or perish, I would believe...
Jesus is coming back before the tribulation, during it, and after it, and I'd believe he has already come and we're supposed to build his earthly kingdom for him.
I'd believe that it is a sin to eat pork, and that it's a sin to eat any meat at all, and that it's a sin to think it's a sin to eat anything at all.
I'd believe that it is a sin to drink anything containing alcohol, and that it's a sin to NOT drink alcohol during communion. I'd believe that it's a sin to not have communion every week, and I'd believe that it doesn't matter.
I'd believe that it's a sin to have church on Sundays, and that it's a sin not to.
I'd believe it's a sin to know I'm dreaming while I'm in the dream, it's a sin to relax too deeply or on purpose, and that it's unscriptural to even consider NOT doing those things.
I'd believe it's a sin to play musical instruments during worship in church, and I'd believe it's a sin to not yell and shout and raise my hands.
I'd believe that you must have no faith or be living in sin to not be healed, and I'd believe that healing passed away with the apostles.
I wouldn't be preaching right now in Second Life, because that's a sin, and it would be a sin to NOT minister in Second Life since it's part of "all the world."
I would believe I have to be a Catholic to really be saved, and I would believe that if I'm a Catholic I can't make it to heaven. (You can fill in just about any denomination there.)
The list could go on and on, and once again, I've been condemned on just about every point because I don't agree with someone else's conclusions, speculations, and inner feelings of what's right and wrong, regardless of whether the Bible clearly agrees.
Now I'm not saying people shouldn't ever bring up any of these subjects and peacefully share with me what they believe the Bible says on the matter. But for any of us to condemn others because they don't agree with our pet doctrines is pretty clearly against the Word of God.
In 1st John chapter 15, verses 16 and 17, we read this:
1 John 5:16-17 (NKJV)
16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.
17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.
What sin doesn't lead to death? In the writings of Paul, it seems pretty clear that all sin leads to death. Romans 6:23 says that "the wages of sin is death." But we also see in Scripture that God forgives us when we turn from our sin and ask His forgiveness.
So a sin leading to death would be a sin in which we willingly and knowingly continue.
Both of those are important. Willingly means that we choose to sin. This is a topic that is potentially very controversial. But if you're putting off repenting until some time in the future, then you are willingly living in sin.
Knowingly means we are aware that what we're doing is a sin. For those who believe drinking anything containing alcohol is a sin, they are knowingly and willingly sinning if they have a single drop of wine. But for those who, and I would agree with them, believe it is only the ABUSE of alcohol which the Bible calls sin, they are NOT sinning if they have a glass of wine. And even if it actually were a sin, they would not be knowingly sinning.
And so... Let's take that example a little further. Let's say you believe any and all alcohol consumption is evil. And you have a Christian brother or sister who drinks wine with their evening meal. Is their supposed sin one that leads to death? They are not knowingly sinning, so the answer is no. That means you should pray for them. That does NOT mean you should tell them they're going to hell and need to repent for not obeying your conscience. That would fall under "judge not lest you be judged."
Here's another example. Let's say you know a Christian who is living with her boyfriend. Unlike drinking wine, sexual impurity is clearly identified in Scripture as a sin -- a very serious one.
What should you do? What approach should you take?
Well, let's take a look at the first part Galatians chapter 6.
Galatians 6:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For each one shall bear his own load.
So back to our example, someone who is spiritual should seek to restore that person to a right relationship with Christ. If God is leading you to talk with them, make sure it's God, and then open your mouth. If He's not, then pray that the right person would come forward.
And if you are that person, you should restore them how? "In a spirit of gentleness." Not, "You know you're going to go to hell if you keep living with your boyfriend. You can't be a Christian and do that. You're a sinner. A fake Christian."
And if you don't know any other way to approach the person, then just keep your mouth shut and pray for God to raise up someone who knows the right thing to say and the right way to say it, in gentleness and humility, and in the restorative power of the Holy Spirit.
As verse two says, we are supposed to bear one another's burdens, for this fulfills the law of Christ. If you're approaching that person as someone who is more spiritual and is sent by God to judge them, then you are not bearing one another's burdens, but are simply adding to its weight, and you fit in to the description in verse three: "for if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself."
And verses four and five go on to say, "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load."
That's another way of saying you should get the log out of your own eye before trying to pick the speck out of your brother's.
We've probably all seen a number of people who think God has anointed them to go around pointing out people's faults. But while we see examples in the Bible of prophets delivering very strong words from God, they did not speak roughly to people who were already seeking the truth.
And unless you KNOW that God has given you something to say, then don't tell someone your words are coming from God. In the Bible, the office of prophet was not something to be taken lightly. If one single word you said turned out to not be true, the law demanded you be killed. Just because the penalty for being a false prophet isn't stoning today, we should consider that we will some day soon come face to face with the judge of the whole earth. Before you say a word comes from God, you'd better make sure it really does. And if you're going around pointing out people's faults and talking bad about them to others, I can almost guarantee you you are NOT speaking for God. It's either your flesh or you-know-who.
We have plenty of work to do on our selves. We don't have time to be fixing everyone else. That's the Holy Spirit's job, and their responsibility. YOUR responsibility, according to Micah 6:8, is to love mercy, to do what's right, and to walk humbly with God. And those are enough to occupy us for the rest of our lives.
So we are supposed to work out our own salvation. The word translated as "salvation" there means deliverance from enemies, or preservation and safety. We have a lot of work to do, and that work is on ourselves, to preserve our walk with God and to stay in the safety of the shadow of His wing.
And we are supposed to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. The word translated as "fear" can also be translated as "reverence." And the word translated as "trembling" means this: "the anxiety of one who completely distrusts his own ability to meet all requirements, but does his utmost to fulfil his duty."
You see, you can NOT meet all the requirements of God's law. And we are to work out our own salvation with reverence for God, and with a complete distrust of our own ability to meet God's requirements, while doing our utmost to obey Him and to live in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Part of such a walk is treating others as we would treat Christ -- with the utmost respect and honor. If you go around judging others, either to their face or in your heart, then that in itself is evidence that you have a log in your own eye. According to 1st Corinthians 13, Godly love believes the best about others.
And that is the challenge laid before us today -- to work on ourselves, putting no confidence in our own ability to please God, but doing our utmost to do so, while trusting in the righteousness of Christ to make us with God, and to believe the best about others, not judging them, but encouraging them and helping them grow closer to God; speaking the truth in gentleness and love when God leads you to do so, but realizing you can't work out THEIR salvation, only your own.
Let's go ahead and close this service with a time of prayer and ministry. If you need prayer, you can instant message me or Mariposa, or anyone else on the staff or ministry team. Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed, and I hope you'll take time today to pray for the persecuted Christians all around the world; and feel free to use that land mark I inserted in the notecard to visit an event set aside for that very purpose, starting at the top of the hour.
You're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front, as we have a time of corporate prayer and worship, and as we allow the Holy Spirit to move our priorities around, so that we are just a little bit more like Jesus.
*** Listen to audio for closing prayer ***