Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Work It On Out

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  -- Philippians 2:12-13

The paradox here is the same seen in the hypostatic union of Christ.  How can the Lord be fully man and yet fully God?  How can I work out my own salvation when it is God who both wills and works in me?

First, it might be helpful to understand what hypostatic means.  It was used to refer to the divine nature shared by the Father and the Son, as in Hebrews 1:3, where Jesus is called the exact or “express image” of God.  There is one nature.  As it came to be used in reference to Christ it meant the union of the two natures of God and man in the single person of Jesus. 

We, too, have two natures, the old and the new.  We possess the inheritance of the first Adam with which we are born, fallen and corruptible.  Through faith, we step into and operate by the nature of the Second Adam with liberty and life everlasting. 

I once had a Muslim ask me how the “Great God” could become a man.  The better question is how we would ever connect with a God who did not know us, who had not brought God and man together in one glorious person. 

The resolution to the paradox of Philippians 2:13 is that it all depends on God.   And it all depends on me.  There is no part that I play -- nothing that I finish out after God starts it, or vice-versa.  It's not teamwork as we usually understand it.  Everything is my responsibility.  Yet it is all God’s doing in me. 

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