Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Let us have a look into what the New Testament books call “salvation”. God wants to reach people. He wants to reach each and every single person on the planet. It is about justice, about trust, about love, about purity. He rescues us by putting us into his community of trust, love and truth.
Salvation in the biblical sence touches all parts of human life. It touches all we are, all we want, all we desire, all we do. It is a transformation - something like a new birth. It is not just following some rules. It is not just paying money, or assembling in a special building on Sunday mornings. Salvation is a transformation of our life. We become children of God, in a very concrete and amazing way day by day.
God's Work …
Let us look into a text about this salvation. Paul writes to the church in Philippi. Let us read first, before we go into a discussion of the text:
12 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, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (from Phil 2, 12ff)
It is very interesting to hear that we are called to “work out” our salvation. Paul writes about fear and trembling. What does he mean? Is it US who can do the salvation? Is it, finally, our work that will cause the salvation? In what way is our work needed for salvation? We get into very deep and old discussions here.
But in the same sentence Paul says that it is God, who works in us. God causes our intention to live with him and he also causes us to do the right steps. It is like two sides of one coin: our own contribution, and God's work in us. We cannot spit it, it is not two distinct things. The holy spirit draws the human spirit. Without the holy spirit, we cannot do, we cannot even want to be with him. At the same time, we are still free beings, whom he wants to make choices!
Without Grumbling …
Let us discuss the words about grumbling or disputing. Are we to accept all things without questioning them? What is Paul talking about? At a different passage Christians are called to be careful, to check everything, to investigate it and keep what is good and sound doctrine. Here, Christians are called to keep to the truth, and to do what is right, without grumbling and discussion.
We are called to hold fast to the word of life. And this is a good command, since Christ is fantastic, and he is the word of God, the word of life. Jesus can be the corner stone of our personal life. He can be the stone on which we stand, in all the trouble, the lies, the ignorance and difficulties which are around us day by day. Faith is a strong power, which wants us to be changed. And it is possible, a lot is possible, when the power of the holy spirit helps us, today and tomorrow.
I have one final thought about this “grumbling” for now. We are invited to discover true love! When our eyes are taken over by love, we discover the beauty which God has placed in each and every human. We start to find them beautiful, indeed. Our grumbling will fade away, since we are taken over by feelings of love and beauty, in the middle of reality. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts