The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 22, 2012
1) Philippians 2:8-13 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
In Philippians 2:8, Paul speaks of Jesus as One who "...humbled
Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death...." Notice
from this passage that humility is seen in conjunction with
obedience. We can, therefore, infer from this verse that our
learning to obey the Lord fully from the heart is also a way for us
to learn to better humble ourselves. And while we think of
humility and obedience going hand in hand, consider also the
connection between pride and disobedience. For it is pride
that often hinders people from obeying God. We can see this
exemplified by Pharaoh, shortly prior to the beginning of the
Mosaical Age. Exodus 10:3 states: "Moses and Aaron went to
Pharaoh and said to him, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of the
Hebrews, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let
My people go, that they may serve Me."'" It takes humbleness
to truly obey the Lord, which leads to salvation. But, on the
other hand, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit
before stumbling" (Prov. 16:18).
Think, too, of Naaman. He was initially angered that the
prophet Elisha had sent a servant to him, rather than coming out
himself. He wanted to see Elisha do something spectacular by
coming out, standing before him, calling on the Almighty God, waving
his hand over the place, which then would all result in a miraculous
healing of Naaman's leprosy. Instead, Naaman had been told by
Elisha's servant to dip himself 7 times into the Jordan River.
And that, too, was not to Naaman's liking, since he spoke of Abanah
and Pharper, rivers of Damascus that had been far better than all
the rivers of Israel. So Naaman went away in a rage.
Could that have been pride that led to his rage, to his rejection of
God's instruction, and to his going away? Eventually, however,
Naaman was convinced by his servants to comply with what God was
requiring; and when Naaman did so, he was healed. So Naaman's
change of heart enabled him to humbly submit to what the Lord had
In the case of Jesus, it wasn't merely humbling Himself by becoming
obedient; but, rather, becoming obedient to the point of death; and
not just to the point of death, but also to a most terrible and
torturous death -- "even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8). So
much humility Christ showed; so much selflessness. First He
gave up His glorified state in heaven. Then he became a man --
and not merely a man, but also a servant among men. The Lord's
very entrance into this world is seen as being of a truly humble
manner (Luke 2:4-17); but though of such a lowly birth, He was still
the Christ child and, therefore, glorified and worshiped by the
heavenly host as no mere human alone could ever be reverenced.
When He grew older, He had been a carpenter, having the same trade
as his earthly father Joseph. And though Jesus was and is God,
He did not live in a mansion, while on earth, with dozens of
servants at His beck and call. Though as God, Jesus made the
earth, as well as the entire universe, yet while dwelling on our
planet, there is no mention of Him ever owning His own home or
property. And when He was put to death, it was through one of
the most humiliating ways -- a way that was accompanied with
dishonor and shame and carried out on the worst of criminals.
While agonizing on the cross, Jesus was mocked and railed at to add
to His already extreme suffering. But the Lord, however, "endured
the cross, despising the shame," due to the "joy set before Him"
(Heb. 12:2) and was willing to bear all the torment and all the
insults so that His mission would be accomplished. Galatians
3:13 reads, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having
become a curse for us -- for it is written, 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO
HANGS ON A TREE.'"
As a result of Jesus' humility, obedience, and death, Paul states,
"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9). In
this, we see the greatest example of the statement Jesus makes in
Luke 14:11, "...he who humbles himself shall be exalted." For
never did any man humble himself as greatly as Jesus did -- nor
never has any man been exalted to the same superior degree as Jesus
has been exalted to.
Philippians 2:10,11 goes on to show one of the reasons why such a
supremely elevated name was given to the Lord: "so that at the name
of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on
earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Jesus
is not only "Lord" -- He is also the "Lord of lords and King of
kings" (Rev. 17:14). As He declares in Matthew 28:18, "...'All
authority [power, KJV] has been given to Me in heaven and on
earth." Christ's exalted position is also seen in the
figurative phrase of being "the first-born of all creation" (Col.
1:15). When used metaphorically like this, the term
"first-born" refers to preeminence or supremacy. This is seen
in Psalm 89:27, for example, where the Lord said of David, "I shall
also make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the
earth." In the context of Colossians 1:15, however, in
pertaining to Jesus, it is not just an exaltation over all others,
but also over "all creation." For "He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things
were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or
authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have
first place in everything" (Col. 1:15-18).
Jesus' exalted position can also be seen in Acts 4:12: "And there is
salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven
that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Jesus is the only way to heaven, according to His own words in John
14:6: "...'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes
to the Father, but through Me.'" This world is made up of many
religions that do not accept Christ as the only way to heaven; and,
as a result, their rejection of Him will keep them from salvation.
For the sin of rejecting the Lord is seen in the Bible to be even
greater than the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10:14,15).
Jesus warns in John 8:24, "...unless you believe that I am He, you
shall die in your sins."
So there is coming a time when all will acknowledge Jesus as Lord --
even the most staunch atheist; but, unfortunately, many will make
that acknowledgment when it is too late. We must, therefore,
confess Christ as Lord while we live and accept His ways, so that we
can continue praising His name throughout eternity in heaven.
According to 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12, when Christ comes again, it
will be a time in which the saints will glorify Him and the
believers will marvel; but it will also be a time of wrath for those
who had not known God and those who had disobeyed the gospel.
So that indicates there is coming a time when it will be too late
for the lost to be redeemed. When will that time
be? Only God knows. Therefore, the wisest thing we
can do is always be ready for the Lord's return!
Paul then goes on to say in Philippians 2:12, "So then, my beloved,
just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now
much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and
trembling[.]" J. W. Shepherd refers to this as "...the secret
of all the joy in this epistle." Yes, obedience to the Lord is
the way of joy. As we sometimes sing, "Blessed [happy] are
they who do His commandments...." In pertaining to the
Philippians, Paul points out that they always obeyed -- and whether
Paul was with them or not. As we saw in Philippians 1:5, the
Philippians showed dedication toward spiritual things (specifically,
in this verse, in helping Paul with his support), "...from the first
day until now." If, however, the Philippians obeyed only when
Paul was present, we would call this "eye service." It would
then also mean that they weren't truly committed to the Lord.
Similarly, if the only time we prayed was when we assembled with the
saints then that wouldn't say much about our prayer life or our
commitment to God.
For those in the world today who view salvation as being a passive
thing, apart from any necessary obedience, the need to "work out"
our "salvation with fear and trembling" stands in stark contrast to
The phrase "work out" (Phil. 2:12) actually comes from just one
Greek word -- "katergazomai," which Thayer defines as "1) to perform
accomplish, achieve 2) to work out, i.e., to do that from
which something results. 2a) of things: bring about, result in...."
The necessity to "work out" our salvation is also implied in the
word "faithfulness," of which its need is also clearly stressed in
the Scriptures. For the very word itself has been defined as
"1. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant. 4.
strict or thorough in the performance of duty" (Random House
Webster's Electronic Dictionary and Thesaurus). Faithfulness,
therefore, involves action on our part. Corresponding to this
is the Lord's statement in John 14:15: "If you love Me, you will
keep My commandments." So, though one becomes a Christian and
is saved from past sins when initially obeying the New Testament
commands to believe in Jesus, repent of sins, acknowledge faith in
Christ, and be baptized in water for the remission of sins, there is
also the need to remain faithful for that ultimate future salvation
of heaven itself. Notice, for instance, Paul's admonition to
Timothy: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching;
persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure
salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you" (1 Tim.
4:16). We can infer from this the need to maintain the right kind of
spiritual life, so that heaven will eventually be our
destination. Consider also 2 Peter 1:5-11 and Philippians
3:12-14, in which Paul speaks of his pressing on "toward the goal
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," in this
latter passage, and shows the need to add virtues to our faith in
the former to make our "calling and election sure" and gain
"entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus
The passage in Philippians 2 goes on to say in verse 13, "for it is
God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good
pleasure." But we must keep in mind that this is preceded with
the need for our own faithful cooperation with God, by striving to
"work out our salvation with fear and trembling." For notice
how those who benefit from Christ are described in Hebrews
5:9: Jesus "became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal
salvation." And, of course, the contrast of this can be seen
in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, in pertaining to that time when Christ will
return -- "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and
to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." So
there is this need for our cooperation in order for the Lord to work
within us. We can liken this to the good instruction and
discipline parents use in raising their children. If the
children take heed to that, the parents will truly be able to work
within their children for their good. It will help form them
into becoming the type of upright people they should be.
Many folks today have been so deceived by the misconception of
salvation by "faith alone" that they view any type of work as that
which would nullify salvation by faith. But what they fail to
realize is that faith without works is "dead" and "useless," as
James states in James 2:17,20: "Even so faith, if it has no works,
is dead, being by itself." "But are you willing to recognize,
you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?"
Often when the Bible speaks of salvation not being by works, it is
referring to the works of the Old Law -- which Jesus annulled by His
death at Calvary, and which many Judaizers were still trying to live
by. As Paul shows in Galatians 2:16, "nevertheless knowing
that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through
faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so
that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of
the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be
justified." It's also in this epistle, where Paul tells these
Galatians who had gone back to the Law of Moses, "You have been
severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you
have fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:4).
There are other "works," however, that are commanded of us
today that are to be coupled with our faith in order to make it
complete and a saving faith. Consider, for instance, James
2:22-24: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith
alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by
works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another
way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also
faith without works is dead." What type of faith (of Abraham)
would we be reading about, had he not obeyed God's commands?
It would have then been a dead faith. The same also holds true
to all those great people of faith we read about in Hebrews
11. All of them were motivated to do something because of
their faith -- to obey the Lord -- and without their obedience, they
would have fallen short. For example, "By faith
Noah...prepared an ark for the salvation of his household..." (v.
7). "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than
Cain..." (4). "By faith Abraham...obeyed..." (v. 8). "By faith
the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for
seven days" (v. 30). Take away what these people did in their
obedience to God, and their faith would have been useless and
vain. It would have availed them nothing.
The need for faith and obedience, therefore, is seen in both the Old
and New Testament times. It is summed up by saying in Habakkuk
2:4 that "the righteous [just, KJV] will live by faith." This
is also repeated in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11; and note how the
Hebrew writer speaks of it in Hebrews 10:38,39: "BUT MY RIGHTEOUS
ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO
PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those who shrink back to
destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the
soul." Since, as this passage shows, faith is to be a way of
life, then it necessitates conformity to God's word.
Belief, repentance, confession of one's faith in Jesus, and water
baptism is what begins this new life in Christ, according to Romans
6:3,4 and elsewhere. So faith, in the sense of only a mere
mental agreement toward the deity of Christ is just part of that
salvation plan -- and, therefore, cannot save by just itself.
For these other conditions must also be included to make our faith a
Naaman, for instance, was told to dip himself 7 times into the
Jordan in order to be healed of his leprosy. Faith without
that obedience would have left him a leper. The blind man, in
John 9, was told to "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." He, too,
needed to do more than believe that; he needed to also do
that. And Jesus states in Mark 16:16, "He who has believed and
has been baptized shall be saved...." One, therefore, needs to
not only believe that; but also do that, in order to be saved from
past sins. For baptism becomes an act of faith, an obedient
faith. By it we not only show our trust in God, but also
indicate by our actions that there is no human plan of salvation by
which we can be saved, that we must, therefore, accept only God's
So may we each continue to accept God's way throughout our lives and
through His Son Jesus Christ. For as we have seen in today's
article, God the Father has exalted His Son Jesus and given Him a
name above all other names that all will bow before Him and
acknowledge Him as Lord. This was because Jesus had humbled
Himself by becoming obedient even unto an agonizing death on a cross
to make an atonement for all lost souls. We, therefore, need
to do our part in working out our salvation that we will benefit
from Christ's sacrifice and enable God "to will and to work for His
good pleasure" within us.
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
* Jean Calloway who has
recently been admitted to the hospital, due to serve pain in her
back and leg. There also appeared to be swelling and infection
in her knee, which she was treated for. We are waiting to hear
the test results.
* Mike Dubose who is suffering
from cancer and receiving continual treatment for it.
* Mozelle Robertson (Ken's
mother) who is healing from wrist surgery.
* Clifton Trimble who has
not been well.
* Geneva Wilson who is very
weak physically and housebound.
* Shirley Young who
continually suffers from fibromyalgia.
* Cheryl Crews who has been
having chronic ailments.
* Anthony Webb and Andrew Robertson who are
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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