While a father was washing his car one Saturday morning, he looked over and saw his four-year-old son picking up rocks and rubbing them on his trousers. He asked, “What are you doing?” Innocently, his son replied, “I want to be dusty like you, dad.” You see, this young father worked at a feed processing plant. Every day when he came home, his son would comment about how dusty he was. Years later when he recounted the story, that father said, “I realized that if a son would look up to his father for being dusty, he would look up to dad for anything.” In Philippians 2:12-16 we see what it means to live as children of God who try to be like their heavenly Father in everything. Explore this passage to understand more about what it means to live out your salvation as a child of God.
Before studying today's passage, pray and ask its Author, God, to help you understand the truth He presents in it and how He wants that to change your life today.
Read Focus Verses
Read Philippians 2:12-16 noticing what it says about God's people.
What names and titles does this passage use for God's people?
Keyword - Children
Marking these names and titles given to God's people, like 'sons of God,' will help them stand out.
Mark the names and titles used for God's people in Philippians 2:12-16.
Reading Philippians 2:1-11 will put today's passage in context and help you understand the basis for the commands we'll look at today.
On what basis are the commands in today's passage built?
What does verse 12 say these believers have done well?
What are they to add to their obedience according to verse 12?
Whose work is their obedience and salvation ultimately?
How does verse 14 say Christians are to do everything?
According to verse 15, what is the result of doing everything without murmurings and disputings?
How does verse 15 contrast believers with the world around them?
What does Paul say, in verse 16, that if they will do his labor will have been worth it?
Notice that Paul calls these believers beloved in Philippians 4:1 also.
What is the significance of the opening name, beloved, that Paul uses for these believers?
In My Absence
If these believers were only trying to please Paul, they would have been tempted to obey more perfectly when he was with them than when he was gone. What does it say about who they were trying to please that they continued to obey in Paul's absence?
In verse 12, the believers are instructed to work out their salvation. Take a moment to look at the word translated work out.
Origin: from (2596) and (2038)
- to perform, accomplish, achieve
- to work out i.e. to do that from which something results
- of things: bring about, result in
- to fashion i.e. render one fit for a thing
Titus 2:13-14 gives us further insight into what it looks like to live out one's salvation.
Notice how Ephesians 2:8-10 also connects the ideas of salvation and life change.
Living in the Gospel
Philippians has already touched on this theme of living in light of the gospel in 1:27-30. (Explore that passage in the study plan titled, "The Fearlessness of Heaven's Citizens.")
Living out Salvation
If someone asked you, 'What does it mean to live out your salvation?' how would you use these passages to answer them?
1 Peter 1:17-21 explains more of what today's passage means by fear.
Hebrews 12:28-29 explains further.
At His Word
In Isaiah 66:1-2 we see the importance of this fear of God.
The last verses of Ecclesiastes, 12:13-14, put it all in perspective when they explain that fearing God is the foundation of meaningful living.
Tricked Out of Reward
Colossians 2:18-19 shows us what Christians have to be wary of.
Others who looked like they were Christians will show they were not because they do not persevere according to Hebrews 3:12-4:1
Take a look at the word translated trembling.
Origin: from (5141)
- a trembling or quaking with fear
- with fear and trembling, used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfil his duty
In Your Words
In your own words, what does it mean to work out one's salvation with fear and trembling?
The Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11 gives us insight into what it means that God works in His people.
Christ in Me
Galatians 2:20 takes that thought even further.
In Numbers 23:19 we see the certainty of God accomplishing what He sets out to do.
He Will Finish
Philippians opens with this certainty in 1:3-6.
Your Father's Good Pleasure
Jesus tells us in Luke 12:32 what God's pleasure is regarding His children.
God's Good Pleasure
In Ephesians 1:3-12 we see how it pleases God to accomplish that purpose.
Unto all Pleasing
Colossians 1:9-13 tells us how God's work fits with His people's work in these two verses (12-13) in today's passage.
Jude 1:24-25 also speaks of God's pleasure in accomplishing this work of transforming His people's lives through the gospel.
What does it mean that God is working in His people?
What is God working in His people's lives according to Scripture?
Why is it so amazing that God takes pleasure in this? Why does this work please Him?
Philippians chapter 2 opens with a challenge to live humbly. Proverbs 13:10 shows us how doing everything without murmuring and disputing is tied into this.
Strife or Humility
Just a few verses before today's passage, Philippians 2:3 speaks to this theme.
Hebrews 13:5-6 shows us that doubting God's promises is at the root of complaining.
James 3:13-18 painfully exposes the foolishness of strife and contention.
What is at the root of complaining and arguing?
Why will obeying verse 14 make Christians stand out as verse 15 says?
Take a moment to consider, why does God want His people to be blameless and above reproach?
What does it mean that God's people are harmless?
Sons of God
We can learn a lot by considering the titles God uses for Himself and others in various places in His Word. Consider the use of the title 'sons of God' in verse 15. Notice how the title is used very similarly in Matthew 5:9.
Like Your Father
A little later in Matthew 5:43-48 this is further explored.
Children of God
1 John 3:1-3 helps us understand more of what it means to be children of God.
Why does verse 15 of today's passage use the title it does to describe God's people?
Worse and Worse
In 2 Timothy 3:13 we see that the world around God's people is getting worse.
Ephesians 4:17-24 explains why the world is so bad.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 reveals that Satan is at the heart of this world's darkness.
Light of the World
In Matthew 5:14-16, the Lord Jesus explains that His people are to be the light of this world.
Ephesians 5:8 clarifies that everyone who is now God's child and a light in this world was once part of its darkness.
Light and Darkness
Why does God use the analogy of light and darkness to describe how His people should be in the world around them?
Words of Life
Jesus tells us in John 6:63 whose are the Words of life.
In 1 John 1:1-3 we see that it isn't just the Words God speaks to us through His Word, but Jesus Christ Himself who is the Word of life.
John 3:16 summarizes the message of life God's people can offer.
Romans 1:16-17 reminds us why Christians can boldly hold forth the Word of life without being ashamed.
What will holding forth the Word of life look like in a Christian's life?
At His Coming
Consider how 1 Thessalonians 2:19 ties into today's passage.
If we read Philippians 1:12-20 we see why Paul's ultimate goal for these Christians, his ultimate dream, was for them to boldly share the gospel.
How does understanding what Paul was willing to suffer for the sake of sharing the gospel help us understand why it was so important to him that these Christians share it too?
In many of the Epistles we see Paul's concern that his efforts and suffering to share the gospel with a church would be wasted if they turned away from the gospel. See what he says to the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 3:5-8.
Notice how Paul expands on running a race as an analogy for his work in 1 Corinthians 9:23-27.
Why would Paul consider his labor and suffering worthwhile if these Christians would share the Word of life with others?
How would you summarize Philippians 2:12-16 in your own words?
Living Out Your Salvation
How is God challenging you through this passage to live out your salvation today?
Without Murmuring and Disputing
What in your life needs to change so that you live without murmurings and disputings so that you can be a light to the world around you?
How does your position as a child of God impact how you should think and live today?
The Word of Life
How are you going to hold forth the Word of life today?
We hope this study has helped you understand better what it looks like to live as a child of God and has challenged you to live out your salvation today.
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