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THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Intro: Everyone has to meet certain expectations as they go through life. Parents have expectations of their children. Spouses have expectations of one another. Employers and employees come to the job situation with certain expectations. You have expectations of your Pastor and I have certain expectations of the members of this church. However, when you get right down to it, the expectations we hold over one another as we move through live are really nothing more than us holding people to our standards!
But did you know that God has expectations of His people? This letter was written about some of those expectations. The church in Philippi was a good church! It was the first Christian church established in Europe. It had been founded by Paul. Now, it is ten years later! This church had proven to be a blessing! Paul, their founder, was prisoner in Rome. The Philippian Christians are reaching to help Paul. They send a man named Epaphroditus to Rome with a gift for the Apostle. Epaphroditus tells Paul about all that is going on at the church in Philippi.
Paul finds out that the church is in danger! Not from without, but from some disunity within. It seems that there were some quarrelsome people there in Philippi! They were murmuring and complaining. From reading the book it is plain to see that this hurt Paul and it hurt the cause of Christ!
It is never right for God’s people to be at odds with one another! It is never Christlike for people to grumble and argue with one another. We are commanded in the Word of God to walk in unity, openness and humility, Phil. 1:27; Eph. 4:3.
This second chapter was written to deal with this divisive spirit that had invaded the church at Philippi! In verse 1-4, there is a Plea for self-denial, humility, mutual concern and unity. In verses 5-11, Paul tells of the perfect Pattern of all these things, Jesus Christ. Then, in the verses we have read and are going to consider this evening, he gives us the Process whereby we can become more Christlike in our daily lives.
God expects His people to live like Jesus while they are in this world. Now, it may not be fair for me to impose my expectations upon your life, but God has the right to expect anything He demands from us. After all, He has made a tremendous investment in our lives! He gave the blood of His Son Jesus on the cross the redeem us and now, we are His personal possessions, 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 2:9. With all this in mind, let’s look at these verses for a few minutes this evening. I want to preach for a while on the subject The Expectations Of The Christian Life. Here is what the Lord Jesus expects of you and me. Let’s look into this matter and see how we stack up.
I. V. 12-13 THE EXPECTATION OF THE CHRISTIAN’S WORK
A. V. 12a The Example In Our Work - The word “wherefore” points us back to the discussion about Jesus. In His incarnation, He is the prime and perfect example of humility, obedience and a servant spirit. Just as Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father, Luke 22:42, we are to be obedient to Him as well, Phil. 2:5. (Ill. The Christian faith stands on two foundations: Trust and Obey! James calls is “faith and works”, James 2:18.) (Note: If you ever need a motive to be surrendered to the will of God for your life, then look no farther than Jesus, Who gave His all to do the Father’s will! May we adopt the attitude of Job, who in the depths of despair cried out: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him...”, Job 13:15.)
B. V. 12b The Exhortation In Our Work - We are told in this verse to “Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.” First, let’s take the phrase “your own salvation”. What a great possession! The only reason salvation is mine is because it was His first! He planned it! He purposed it! He pursued it! He paid it! And He pressed it upon my heart! Salvation became mine and it became yours when we placed our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. This salvation, when received, buries the past, changes the present and insures the future! What a great salvation we have in Jesus.
But, we are told to “work it out”. This phrase has been misunderstood and misapplied for 2,000 years! First, let’s discuss what it does not mean.
1. It does not mean work to be saved - Eph. 2:8-9 (These people were already saved!)
2. It does not mean work out an inward salvation - Some people that there is a spark of divinity in every man and that all man has to do is “fan the spark” and it will become a flame. Man has nothing working in him but Hell, sin and death, when he is outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. It does not mean to work to stay saved - When he refers to “fear and trembling” he does not refer to our groveling before the Lord as a slave before his master. Rather, he is referring to the “fear and trembling” that ought to be ours because of the weakness of our flesh, the ways of the world and the wiles of the devil. The fear and trembling reminds us just how prone we are to fail! When the Bible commands us to fear the Lord, it means “to reverence Him”. We are to have a great reverence for God and everything that has to do with Him. We must be sure to keep it all separate and holy. Here, we are being cautioned to fear the failure that dwells so close to the surface in our lives!
What does it mean then? It means “to complete it, to carry it to its conclusion”. What he is talking about here is moving deeper in the things of the Lord and growing toward maturity! After all, the ultimate goal of salvation is our becoming like Jesus, Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:13. Far too many “get in, but they never go on”!
(Ill. It’s kind of like mining. God put the minerals within the earth, and men mine them out. It is expensive and hard work, but the results are worth the effort and the expense. When you were saved, God put His all within you. Day by day, you are to work to see that your salvation is mined to its fullest. That you, by His grace become all He saved you to be! You see, the Christian life is not one of defeats and misery. It is a life of progress, joy and victory! Our responsibility to be what He has saved us to be! And we will be, if we mine out what He has placed within us!)
C. V. 13 The Enablement Of Our Work - Before we were saved God worked on us, John 16:7-11. Now that we are saved, He works within us, John 16:13. The Holy Spirit gives us understanding as to what the will of God is for our lives and He creates within us a desire to carry out that will.
That is how the Christian life operates! God reveals His will to us and we follow Him in obedience, John 5:19-20! The Christian is not one of passive involvement. We don’t just sit around watching God to all the work. No, He places within us a desire to be involved in that work. He shows us what to do and we go and do it. That, after all, is why He saved is - Eph. 2:10! God saved us to work, and He has equipped us for that work, 1 Cor. 12:7, 11.
II. V. 14-15 THE EXPECTATION OF THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK
A. V. 14 We Are To Walk In Obedience To God - We are to carry out the will of God without “murmuring”. This world means “muttering, a secret displeasure in the heart, not publically revealed”. And, we are to do so without “disputing”. This word means “hesitation, arguing”. It was murmuring and disputing that kept the children of Israel in trouble for 40 years! When the Lord speaks, He wants us to obey His voice, without trying to change His mind or trying to find a way out of doing His will. We are simply to “trust and obey”! Ill. 1 Sam. 15:22; Eph. 6:6.
B. V. 15a We Are To Walk In Opposition To The World - We are called to be “blameless”. This means “free from fault or defect”. “Harmless” means “unmixed”. It carries the idea of “sincerity; or of having no pretense.” In other words, a “harmless” person is just what he calms to be. There is no hypocrisy or pretense in his life. He is what he says he is! We are to stand out as “sons of God” without “rebuke”. The bottom line is this: people should be able to look at your life and mine, and even of they disagree with us, they should not be able to point any areas of hypocrisy in our lives!
This world is “crooked” and “perverse”! These words mean “distorted and twisted”. The Christian, on the other hand, is to be straight and true at all times!
III. V. 15B-16 THE EXPECTATION OF THE CHRISTIAN’S WITNESS
A. V. 15b The Christian Is To Shine - We were just told how dark the world is. Believers are to shine! We are to be lighthouses, warning men of the dangers of sin and pointing them to the safe harbor of salvation. We are to be light reflectors, always reflecting the light of Jesus to those in darkness. (Ill. Moon). We are light the way for others, just as the way was lit for us bu others, Matt. 5:14-16! (Remember, you may be the only Bible some folks ever read, 2 Cor. 3:2!)
B. V. 16 The Christian Is To Share - We are to “hold forth the word of life”. The phrase “hold forth” means to “present, or to offer”. We are take the faith we have been given and we are to share it with others. If God has saved your soul, you can and should be a light for Him, Acts 1:8! (Ill. Your light may seem dim, but it can ignite a great fire! Peter was a great torch. He was ignited by Andrew’s match. D.L. Moody was a great torch, he was ignited by a little match named Mr. Kimbrell. Spurgeon was a great torch, he was ignited by an unknown layman! Never underestimate what the Lord can do with your life, if you will yield it to Him and let Him shine through you!)
Conc: Some folks have adopted the notion that the Christian life is one that makes no demands on its followers. Nothing could be farther from the truth! God saved you and me with the expectation that we would be different ion our lives, thankful for His grace, active in His work and obedient to His voice. How well are you meeting the expectations of God in your life? If you take an honest look at the three areas out text dealt with this evening: Our Works, Our Walk and Our Witness, how are you doing?
Let’s be honest. I doubt that a single person in this room could say “I can to Jesus expecting so much more than I got. He let me down!” No, He met all your expectations and more, didn’t He! The least we can do is make an effort at meeting His!