Tag Archives: work

God’s Energy For Us

We’ve spent the last two posts talking about God’s faithfulness to complete a good work in us, and the example of how this worked in Jesus Christ’s life. Our focus has been on the phrase “faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). The word translated “working” is energeia (G1753), which means efficient, active power. Today, for the final post on this topic, let’s look at the energia of God in His word and see if we can find grace to help us believe in God’s faithfulness in His process, and a faith that will carry us through our times of need.

Energeia and Energeo

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:17-20)

In verse 19, the word translated “working” is energeia (G1753). Then in verse 20, the word “worked” is translated from the closely related word energeo (G1754). In fact, if you want to do an extended word study on this, there are a total of five related words – these two plus energema (G1755), energes (G1756), and ergon (G2041).

But back to verse 20 and energeo. This refers to the effect of energeia. It is what has been accomplished by God the Father’s operative, active power and energy when He takes notice of someone. He accomplished all of this in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand … in other words, “when He was glorified!” Also remember that in John 7:39 it states, “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ” God the Father’s operative, active power and energy  glorified Jesus Christ and made possible all of His “effectual working” in those of us who make up His church.

Working in Us

Christ lived His entire human life by the faith of the operation of His Father. He did this to set the example for how we are supposed to live by faith. Let’s notice how Paul spoke of this in regard to his own calling to minister. He says, “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power”, thus crediting the energeia of God as the guiding force in his life (Eph. 3:7).

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works (energeo) in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

In the phrase “power that works in us,” the word “works” is again energeo.  God seems to be saying that what He can do for us through His effectual working is literally limitless. We ought to trust that “above all that we ask or think” means just what it says!

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working (energeia) by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16)

In these passages, Paul expands the type of work that he describes God doing in him to include the whole body. God and Jesus Christ are committed to “effectual working” in each of us, and They are more than capable of succeeding.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working (energeia) by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:20-21)

Working For His Will

Jesus Christ works in us mightily as the High Priest in the temple of His spirit,  just as His Father  effectually worked in Him. Christ had faith in His father’s faithfulness, and He expects us to exercise the faith of the operation of God, as He did and as Paul demonstrates in his writings.

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working (energeia) which works (energeo) in me mightily. (Col. 1:27 – 29)

God's Energy For Us | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comIn John 5:17, Christ told the Jews, “My Father has been working until now, and I work.” That’s what They do, and They are faithful in Their work, in Their commitments, and in Their promises. They are engaged in a loving and effectual task with their creation.

So we have this “effectual inner working of God” (His energeia) as a process that He has designed to bring us to the goal (the effect of his energeia) which is “above all that we ask or think” — eternal life.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom. 8:18-27)

Look at all of what we just read, and think about how much of this depends on God’s “effectual working.”

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30)

Here we are back where we started in the first post, and I hope we can see more clearly that “all things” of every kind, sort, and variety really do “work together” (sunergeo – G4903). God is at work all the time, and through “all things” that happen in our lives, and it doesn’t sound like He expects to fail does it?

Parting Thoughts

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent (energeo) prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)

Brethren, I’ve always felt that my own intercessory prayers were not as effective as I would like them to be, and I’ve always wondered what might be lacking in them, but perhaps if we more fully understand the effectual working of God, we may be able to approach what it says here in this verse. The word used here in the Greek is energeo. In the uses of the word we’ve looked at so far, it refers to the effect of God’s energia — of His inner work inside of us over time, through suffering and trial … feeling the effects of “all things” that we experience in life.

I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Will He find the kind of faith that He is looking for? Faith in His faithfulness to effectually work out salvation in us through the indwelling presence of His spirit … with the constant oversight and guardianship of Jesus Christ … who, himself overcame all things through the faith of the operation of God?

God’s Faithfulness to Christ

Last week, we talked about God’s faithfulness to make sure that the word He sows into our lives has a good outcome. He is committed to making “all things work together for good” in the lives of “those who love God” and “are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). To further ensure success in this operation, He sends another type of “the Word” into our lives to perform a miracle in us.

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)

No man can open his own mind, or the mind of another to the true meaning of God’s word, but this Being does it at will. In John 6:29, Jesus said “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Here, “the work of God” as defined by Jesus Christ is obviously talking about something that goes on within our heads and our hearts that no man can do for us, nor can we do it for ourselves. If we really believe in the One Sent, the work of God that He is doing in us is yet another piece of evidence of God’s “inner, effectual working” – His energia (G1753) that we defined and discussed in last week’s post.

Follow in Suffering

God's Faithfulness To Christ | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comThere are many things that contribute to our ability to understand and react in the right way to God’s word – our life experiences, frustrations, our failures to “overcome” on our own, our failure to impose our will upon God (that’s a big one!). All of that adds up to one word: suffering. Jesus Christ submitted Himself to suffering as an example to us, and I really don’t think anything contributes as much to God’s end goal for us as our suffering while we follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (Phil. 2:5-9)

A great reward followed this suffering, but look at the mindset that it took to achieve that end. This is the mind of Christ, which is supposed to be in our minds as well.

who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:7-9)

Notice again, the reward follows the suffering. We can’t follow Christ’s footsteps toward the reward without following His footsteps through suffering.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet 2:21- 25)

So we see again this example, and we see again the mind of Christ revealed. I like the wording in verse 23 … He “committed Himself” with complete faith and trust to the One who was working out His end goal to accomplish good things in Christ’s life.

Come In Faith

Let’s go to Hebrews 4, and look at a part of that end goal for Jesus Christ that is now contributing mightily to our own quest to achieve God’s end for us.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)

I recently read an article in one of United Church of God‘s publications that pointed out that Jesus Christ is simultaneously the “great shepherd of the sheep” and “the lamb of God” (a description used 27 times in the book of Revelation). He understands both the role of the guide and of the follower. He knows what it is like to be in our shoes, having been tempted in all points as we are, and having followed His “shepherd” – the Father – as we are to follow Him.

So let’s do just as we’re told in Hebrews 4:16, and come boldly to the throne of grace to see if we can find grace to help us in our times of need. If anyone knows “the faith of the operation of God” it is Jesus Christ, and we can follow Him with full assurance that God will be faithful to us as well.

The Faith Of the Operation of God

I’ve been intensely studying the scriptures now for around 35 years, and one thing that never ceases to amaze me is that you can study a subject in detail and think you’ve really got a handle on what it means, but then you go back to the same scriptures in a few years and the meaning isn’t quite the same. Maybe it has a totally different meaning than you thought it did the first time.   It may have had a life-changing impact on you, or maybe the deep meaning that was there before becomes deeper, and it can help you to plant your feet more firmly on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and Their truth.

Several years ago now, I gave a message entitled “Faith in the Operation of God.” Personally, I can’t think of any concept that has ever benefited me more than the idea in that message has. I’ve looked at the notes many times over the years, and often mention the phrase in email exchanges regarding some calamity taking place in the world – or, sadly, in the churches – these days, and particularly among those entrusted with administrative functions at any level of society.

For Good

Let’s start by quoting a very familiar scripture, which tells us that literally everything happening in our lives can be used by God for a good purpose.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The phrase “work together” is translated from the Greek sunergeo (G4903). Spiros Zodhiates writes that when this word is referring to things, it means “to work together for something, cooperate, contribute to an end or a goal.” It sounds much like the English word “synergy,” and means about the same thing too.

As it says here in Romans, every type of thing contributes to an end goal according to God’s purpose. I don’t know how many times I’ve been through something, or observed someone else in the church go through something, and just within my own easily exasperated mind groaned wondering what possible good could come of this? So, do we believe that “all things” really do contribute to the “good” end that God has in mind for us?

Most of us have been through, or have seen good friends go through, horrible trials. We have suffered or shared in the suffering of  losing a small child, a mate, or a dear friend. We know someone, or have ourselves suffered a debilitating illness or injury and endured years of agony. How do experiences such as those “work for good”? Can they be included in the “things of every kind and sort” that contribute to a real, tangible goal that the great God has in mind for us?

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Col 2:6-12)

Notice the emphasis in these verses on our relationship with the one sent, Jesus the Christ. Part of this relationship is avoiding being cheated or deceived, struggling against some very formidable distractions that would take us away from Jesus Christ.

God’s Faithfulness

The phrase “faith in the working of God” in Colossians 2:12 is translated “the faith of the operation of God” in the King James Version, and that’s the wording I chose for my title. The Greek word translated “working” or “operation” is energeia (G1753). It means something that is operative and active, referring to energy or the being at work. It is efficient, active power.

Faith Of the Operation of God | BaptismForLife.wordpress.comWe know from Hebrews 11:1 that faith is the substance or realization of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We really can’t see God at work, but in time we do see some of the results of God’s inner working. But the first time I studied this, I focused on our faith in God’s “inner working,” and gave a message entitled “faith in the operation of God,” but that’s really not the way it reads. It is “the faith of the operation of God.”

The thing I didn’t focus on earlier was God’s faith in what He is doing in us, and His faithfulness to His commitment to working out a good outcome in our lives. In short, God has faith, and it is a rock solid faith in His plan and purpose. It is tried and tested, on those who have gone before us, and we can see it everywhere in His word.

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. (Heb. 13:7)

The Greek word for them which have the rule over (G2233) actually means, “to lead, or go before.” Metaphorically, it means “to lead out before the mind.” We’re not just supposed to blindly follow someone because they occupy a position or office, but to attentively examine their mode of life, their conduct, and their behavior in life.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:6-11)

God sends His word down here like seed sown in a field and we read, we study, we pray, we meditate, and mull it over in our minds, but we are hard pressed to understand the real depth of its meaning. God invests His word in humanity, and He has faith in the fact that there will be a return on His investment.

“For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Is. 55:12)

He really wants this to be our outcome – an end result where all things work together for good – and to make sure that His word prospers and produces fruit in us, He will always be faithful to work effectively in us because of the faith OF the operation of God.

To Really Be Like Jesus

Spiritual restoration is the end-game of the plan of God

How many times have you stood helplessly by while a good friend or family member has made horrible mistakes, and hurt themselves and other people? How you longed to be able to relieve some of the agony and pain of the reaping of consequences that you know are going to follow their decisions.

How many news stories do we read each week about little minority atheist groups like “Freedom FROM Religion” suing to have the Ten Commandments removed from a public school or courtroom? Our government and society willingly comply, and never even question their own actions in doing so. Then the next school shooting takes place and they blame it on guns, instead of a godless-mindset, purposefully created by a Godless government school. It was this sort of attitude that Christ Himself expressed frustration with when He said,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34)

The Example of Paul

Let’s look at how Jesus Christ handled one such individual He dealt with after His glorification. The risen Christ had no problem communicating His views on Saul’s behavior to Saul, and bringing about an incredible change in Saul’s life.

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)

But Saul wasn’t the only one who needed a little advice from the spiritual realm here. The Lord also communicated the will of God to a man named Ananias. Given Paul’s track-record, Ananias was understandably reluctant to visit him. But God said, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:10-16).

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:1-8)

In verse 7, Paul refers to “ the effective working” of God inside him. The Greek word is energeia (G1753), and it refers to God’s inner working inside of someone, His efficiency in work, and His energy in the work He does within men and women He calls into His church. If you want to do a really inspiring word study, look up all the different forms of this word energeia, and how they are used in scripture, and that might give you a more complete picture of how He really does read and influence the inner man/woman with each of us today. And the word translated “power” is the same word we just looked at in a previous postdunamis. So the way that God worked in Paul to minister to brethren was “by the effective working” of the same kind of “power” that flowed from Christ to heal hundreds of hurting, damaged, sickly people.

Spiritual “Working”

Phil. 3:21 is a truly remarkable verse, because it tells us in one place how God and Christ are going to pull their plan for you and me off.

who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:21)

You see, the same methods that He used to subdue all things to Himself, He is now using to subdue all that we have to overcome to be like Him! Again, the word translated “working” is energeia. When we are “like Him”, we too will have the ability to influence human beings from within using these awesome tools of energia, and dunamis.

And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. (Is. 30:20-21)

We’ve heard this read for years as a millennial duty of “kings and priests”. Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 say we will be kings and priests when we are “like Him”. Just as His effectual working in power changed the life of a carnal man named Saul in Acts 9, we may also be sent to human beings to change their lives from within.

Pure Like Him

What is Christ really like today as our King of kings, and our High Priest? He described His whole attitude very well in two brief sentences recorded in the gospels: “I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27) and “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18-19)

This is a message of hope to the nation of Israel. Often when we think about them, we think of their many failures and their final rejection by God as His nation … but was that rejection really final? If you want a real shot in the arm of encouragement – especially if you feel like you have been failing God and falling short in some way — just look at what Micah knew God would do for Israel based solely on God’s virtue and character. It appears that God, and those who are made “like Him” by God, will be able to do almost anything.

Let’s go back to 1 John 3:1-2, where we began this series of posts, and look at one additional verse.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

I hope I’ve given you at least a little food for thought as to what it might actually be like, to “be like Him” (even though I’m not sure that anyone can paint a really complete picture of what that really will be like). But what I really want to focus on as a final thought is in verse 3. “and everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure”.   We all have “this hope” in Him, and I think we can all agree, whatever we have to do, change, or give up in life to become clean and pure is well worth it to become … LIKE HIM!

The Interactive Book: Working Out Your Own Salvation

We talked last week about the personal invitation God extends to each of us. In that context, we also looked at how Paul addressed the brethren in Philippi as “my beloved,” a name for Christians in fellowship with each other and God. Paul addressed the Ephesian elders in a similar fashion.

Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:28-32)

Knowing that he was going to be absent from them, Paul says that he commends these elders to God, meaning “to place alongside of … to deposit, as a trust or for protection.” Look at what God, and the Word of His grace, is expected to do for us according to Matthew Henery’s commentary.

I commend you to God, that is, to his providence, and to the protection and care of that. It is enough that, from whomsoever we are separated, still we have God nigh unto us, 1Pe_4:19. (2.) He commends them to the word of his grace, by which some understand Christ: he is the word (Joh_1:1), the word of life, because life is treasured up for us in him (1Jo_1:1), and in the same sense he is here called the word of God’s grace, because from his fulness we receive grace for grace. He commends them to Christ, puts them into his hand, as being his servants, whom he would in a particular manner take care of. Paul commends them not only to God and to his providence, but to Christ and his grace…
He commends them to the word of God’s grace, not only as the foundation of their hope and the fountain of their joy, but as the rule of their walking: “I commend you to God, as your Master, whom you are to serve, and I have found him a good Master, and to the word of his grace, as cutting you out your work, and by which you are to govern yourselves; observe the precepts of this word, and then live upon the promises of it.”

Let’s take note also that Paul tells them here Who is “able to build you up.” The word able is dunamai (G1410), a form of a word used to describe the miracle-working power that emanated from Christ. Hearkening back to Philippians 2, we see that in the absence of an apostle, minister, church leader, or corporate church organization, you and I are supposed to be busy doing something very weighty and important for ourselves, and for the family of God.

Working in You

Let’s re-read Philippians 2:12.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12)

The words“work out” are translated from katergazomai (G2716), which means to accomplish, work fully, finish or fashion. All of us independent macho Church of God guys are up for this, right ? Ready to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps? But have you ever tried that? Boy, you can reach down and grab those bootstraps, and yank for all you’re worth, grunt and groan and tug … and you might even clear the floor by a couple of inches, but you always end up with your feet right back on the floor where you started. Just about the same results you get from working out your own salvation on your own. It doesn’t take long to realize that you’re really not getting anywhere. And that’s why God immediately follows this phrase with verse 13.

for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

This is one of those verses you can just breeze past, if you’re in a hurry to get your morning Bible study in before work … but this is one of the most encouraging and important verses in the entire Bible. And it is a grievous mistake to try to “work out your own salvation” if you ignore verse 13. Just think about this Being – who and what He is, and let the goose bumps run up your spine. I’ll quote from Matthew Henry’s commentary again.

“And because it is God who worketh in you, do you work out your salvation. Work, for he worketh.” It should encourage us to do our utmost, because our labour shall not be in vain. God is ready to concur with his grace, and assist our faithful endeavours. Observe, Though we must use our utmost endeavours in working out our salvation, yet still we must go forth, and go on, in a dependence upon the grace of God. His grace works in us in a way suitable to our natures, and in concurrence with our endeavours; and the operations of God’s grace in us are so far from excusing, that they are intended to quicken and engage our endeavours. “And work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for he worketh in you.” All our working depends upon his working in us.

This is the phrase I want to focus on: “all our working depends upon His working in us.” Going back to the Bible verse, this word “works” is energeo (G1754), and it means “to be mighty in,” active, efficient, effectual. It is one of four closely related Greek words – energeia, energeo, energema, and energes (G1753-1756) – that describe the absolute power of God and Christ over the flesh. The thoughts conveyed in these words speak of a God who is fully engaged with His called-out ones to work His divine miracles in us and bring us to the desired end. The Greek word eudokia (G2107) adds shades of meaning to the phrase “His good pleasure.” It means benevolence, gracious purpose, and good will.

Operation of God

Let’s look at another place where it would not be wise to ”work out your own salvation” without faith in the working of God. This verse uses the word energeia (G1753), which means “inner working.”

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (Col. 2:9-13)

The King James Version translates as this phrase in verse 12 as “faith in the operation of God.” This passage paints a picture of a fully engaged, hands-on God who has given us life in Christ, and is ever-willing to interact with us to bring us to the full realization of eternal life in Christ. The word appears again in Ephesians 1, speaking of an engaged God, who is as eager and willing to interact with and help us as He was to work with His own son.

making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Eph. 1:16-21)

To enhance this interactive work God is trying to accomplish in us, one of the things we ought to do is “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:125, KJV). So, one of the things we can do to work out our own salvation is to study God’s words and thoughts, and assent to them, submit to them, and be approved of by God for doing so.

Christ’s Work

For an example of this, let’s look at what a guy named Steve Buchanan called the “specific purpose statement of the entire Bible” in a sermon some years ago.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

The end product, the goal of God’s word in us, is to accomplish God’s pleasure or purpose. That purpose is to give us eternal life, and the way for us to get there is through knowing these Two great Beings. In John 17:3, Christ defined the goal and showed us how to get there. And, as an example to us, He put Himself through the same process that we must go through.

who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” (Heb. 5:7-10)

If you and I are going to “work out our own salvation,” it makes sense that we need the Author of eternal salvation “working in us to do and to will of His good pleasure.” This Being is a huge key to us being able to “work out our salvation.” God the father has empowered Him to help and assist us in every way by making Him the Head over all things to the church, by making Him Lord and Christ, Apostle and High Priest, King of kings, Lord of lords, and Shepherd and Guardian over our souls.

We are to be intimately interacting with both the Father and Jesus Christ, the One sent, and with the written Word of life – studying, reacting, responding in obedience, discussing it with Them in prayer, and “working it out with fear and trembling,” not wanting to fall short, to disappoint them.

So to wrap-up this blog series on “The Interactive Book,” God has sent the Word of life into this world for a purpose. He admonishes each human being on this planet to handle the Word of life responsibly, and to give Him a profit on His investment of the Word in their own lives. He provides us with the most personal help, aid, and encouragement that He can through His own son, and He Himself is at work within us each day to will and to do for His good pleasure … through the interactive book.

“The Interactive Book” series:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Key To Scripture

Part 3: Fellowship With The Word Of Life

Part 4: Judgment and Friendship

Part 5: A Personal Call

Part 6: Working Out Your Own Salvation