“Man’s Generosity or God’s Good Work?” ( Philippians 1: 5-7, KNOX & ESV ) by Carley Evans


A challenging aspect of reading the Word of God is understanding what was meant when it was spoken or written. An example of translation differences follows. What do you think?

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Paul thanks the church at Philippi for its generosity toward the work of Christ’s gospel. The generosity of this church is inspired by God the Holy Spirit who will continue to “bring it to perfection.” He will nudge the church to aid the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ.

so full a part have you taken in the work of Christ’s gospel, from the day when it first reached you till now. Nor am I less confident, that he who has inspired this generosity in you will bring it to perfection, ready for the day when Jesus Christ comes. It is only fitting that I should entertain such hopes for you; you are close to my heart, and I know that you all share my happiness in being a prisoner, and being able to defend and assert the truth of the gospel.

Or Paul recognizes that God has begun a work in the persons who move about in the church at Philippi because of their willingness to partner with him in spreading the good news. He knows that God “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He feels this way about them because they “are all partakers with me of grace.” They, like him, defend and confirm the gospel.

because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. (ESV)

“Outshine Darkness” ( Matthew 5:14,16; WYC ) by Carley Evans


 

Oil lamp
(Photo credit: ralphunden)

 

“Ye be [the] light of the world; a city set on an hill may not be hid; So shine your light before men, that they see your good works, and glorify your Father that is in heavens.”

 

A most simple analogy – think of the world as a dark room with no windows. Inside this darkness, various Christians function as matches, candles, pen lights, oil lamps, electric lamps, street lights, traffic lights, flood lights, spot lights, lighthouses, stars, nebula.

 

Whatever our manifestation of Light, we always outshine Dark. The questions are: to what extent? and for how long?

 

 

 

“End Results, Not The Means” (Titus 3: 4 – 7, KJV) by Carley Evans


Who saves us?

We are saved by “God, our Savior.”

When are we saved?

We are saved “after the kindness and love of God, our Savior” appears.

Why are we saved?

We are saved “not by works of righteousness which we do, but according to His mercy.”

How are we saved?

We are saved “by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He sheds on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior.”

What is the result of our salvation?

When we are saved, we are “justified by His grace;” and we are “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Here — in three verses — Paul gives us the who, when, why, how, and what of salvation. Another result of our salvation — which Paul mentions prominently — is that we “who believe in God must be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (Titus 3: 8)

And again, he writes: “And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they not be unfruitful.” (Titus 3: 14)

Good works and fruitfulness are the end results of our salvation, but they are not the cause of our salvation. The causal factor in our justification is God’s mercy and grace, His love and sacrifice for us, which He plans before time begins and brings to fruition on the Cross and in His resurrection and through His giving of His Holy Spirit.

“To The Praise Of His Glorious Grace” (2 Timothy 1: 9, HCSB) by Carley Evans


We are saved before time begins in Christ Jesus who is with God and is God. As John writes, “In the beginning is the Word, and the Word is with God, and the Word is God.” (John 1: 1)

Paul tells us that our salvation is not due to our works, but completely rests on Christ’s finished work, which is God’s purpose and will.

“For [God] chooses us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestines us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favors us with in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1: 4 – 6)

Paul calls us to be strong in God’s grace, keeping ourselves from entanglement in the affairs of the world so that we are “set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2: 1, 21)

For the good works we do are prepared in advance for us by our Heavenly Father, and performed by the power of His Holy Spirit through the grace of His Beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“The Gift Of God” (Ephesians 2: 8 – 9, NIV) by Carley Evans


What is clearer than Paul’s extraordinary statement of truth — that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

That faith itself is a gift of God is clear — yet is also one of the stumbling blocks of the Christian walk. The concept that God gives us our faith in His Son causes great consternation. How is it that God gives us this gift? Why does He give it to some, but not to others? How is this fair? Paul asks and answers these questions in his letters to the Romans.

“No one can boast.”

This is ultimately the truth we should find in the Word of God. No one is able to stand in the presence of God unless God Himself has willed it. Job’s friends try to discover Job’s secret sin, the cause of all his suffering. Job continues to protest that he is righteous and has done no wrong. In the end, God challenges Job to explain the universe and to recognize that God has every right to do with His creation whatever He wishes.

God is the potter; we are the clay.

“No one can boast.”

In the end, Job repents in dust and ashes.

Paul adds, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 10)

Not only has God created us, given us faith in His Son; but He has also created the good works we are to do while we are alive on this earth. God has a plan, like any exceptional craftsman. He knows His work; He has an end result in His creative mind.

“By The Mercies Of God” (Romans 12: 1, ESV) by Carley Evans


Paul reminds us that God’s mind, riches, wisdom, knowledge, judgments, and ways are unknown, unsearchable, inscrutable. Paul says, “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11: 36)

Paul therefore appeals to us “by the mercies of God, to present [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship.”

In presenting our bodies to God, we also renew our minds so that we may be able to discern “what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12: 2) We renew our minds through the Word of God which the Holy Spirit reveals to us as we meditate upon it, explore it, study it, pray it.

We are able to present ourselves to God as gifts because of His mercies. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2: 10)

Paul therefore urges us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4: 1 – 3)