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– page 2

Motivation to Work Towards Unity

Philippians 2:12-13 NIV

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

In the previous section, Paul encouraged – even instructed – the Philippian community to be unified. His words: easy to understand, harder to do.

This section is a followup, or final push to encourage the Philippians to find unity among themselves. Notice how Paul attempts to persuade them to follow through – even if the task seems too difficult or uninteresting: (my paraphrase) “In the past, you followed my instruction while I was with you. Now, in my absence, it’s all the more important for you to do so. And, if you think it’s too hard – or you just don’t want to – remember this: It is God who is working in you, giving you the desire to do and empowering you to do what He desires.”

Paul’s letter to the Colossians had a similar phrase: (1:29 – emphasis added) “To this end, I labor, struggling with all HIS energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

So, once again, we can say that we work, and God gets the credit. Why? Because He works in us to give us the desire to work, and He gives us the energy to work. Why be motivated to work towards unity? Because that is God working in us!

A Great Truth, A Great Hope

Predestined for the Praise of His Glory

Ephesians 1:11-12 NIV

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

From this passage I see that Christians are predestined:
1. According to a plan, and
2. For the praise of God’s glory.

Predestination is not a reaction; it has a plan and a purpose. That gives me encouragement and comfort.

Chosen and Predestined

My wife and I have been reading (out loud) through Ephesians together, and my next series of posts will be things that stood out to me during our reading. This is not an attempt to exhaust Ephesians, rather it is intended to highlight one or two things from each chapter.

Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Here are the same verses in an emphasized outline form:
We were chosen before the creation of the world to:
a. be holy
b. be blameless
in His sight.

In love he predestined us to
a. be adopted as his sons
according to
a. his pleasure
b. his will
to the praise of his glorious grace.

Here are the verses in a summarized fashion:
His adopted sons are to be holy and blameless in His sight, and they were chosen before the creation of the world according to HIS pleasure and will. And all that for the praise of His glorious grace.

Unfortunately, many in the body of Christ will not praise God’s glorious grace when they see chosen and predestined. Instead, they will criticize and protest. Many will try to make these verses unsay what they say.

Why can’t we be more like Spurgeon who said the following in a comment on 1 Timothy 2:3-4?

“My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself; for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, “God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

(Source: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit vol. 26, 1880, pp. 49, 50)

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