Devotional # 125. 2/24/15. Philippians 2:9-12.
Intro. I am excited about this week’s Devotional because I think the Holy Spirit will show us some things that are necessary for a closer walk with Him. We will see Jesus’ name be lifted up, every person confessing He is Master and learn how God has blessed us with gifts and what we’re supposed to do with them.
v. 9. Jesus has the Name above every name. We’ve probably heard this before and even the great worship song from this verse called “Jesus, Name above all Names.” But have you thought about what it means? I think of Hebrews 1:4 which talks about how Jesus “obtained a more excellent name than” the angels. This has nothing to do with His nature – He’s always been God. This means that in action His name earned a better dimension of Messiah then an angel who, if you read Heb. 1:7, are called “messengers.” What action was it that Jesus did? It was obedience in coming to earth to die for our sins. “Action” and “obedience” will be themes through this Devotional, as we follow our Master’s example.
vv. 10-11. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What many people don’t understand is that they will give glory to Jesus, one way or another. A simple reading of this verse shows that you cannot escape it. Whether you’re in heaven, whether you’re on the earth or if you’re in hell – you will acknowledge that Jesus is Master (“Lord“). The recognition of Jesus as Master gives glory to the Father. Why? How? Because the Father sent the Son to die for everybody’s sins (John 3:16). It pleased the Father to do this (Isaiah 53:10; Mark 1:11; Eph. 5:2) and Jesus did it expertly (Romans 5:1) so “confessing” this verbalizes to God that He has done a great thing.
Although I think it’s great that angels and resurrected Christians (those in “heaven“) will glorify Jesus, and even demons and non-believers (“those under the earth“) will glorify Jesus, I think the most pertinent thing for us to think about today is those who are “on the earth“. Those are the ones who still have a choice to do this willingly or to be forced. And that makes absolutely all of the difference in the… no pun intended… world.
I think a little study of some verses in Matthew 25 would be helpful here. For context we have to know that Matthew 25 is part of Jesus’ answer to the third question from Matthew 24:3 when his disciples asked about the end of the world (“end of the age“). In Matthew 25 Jesus gives parables about those who get into heaven and those who don’t. In verse 14 Jesus gives the parable about the man who traveled to a far country and gave his servants money (“talents“) and depending on what they did with them he either rewarded or punished them. Jesus was speaking about the gifts that He has given us and the fruit that we bear and the reason I mention it is because Jesus says the famous “well done good and faithful servant” (v. 23). We have to keep this in mind. The section we’re reading in Philippians isn’t just about Jesus being glorified, He is so much greater than that. Not only do we have the choice now to glorify Him with our words but also our actions. And when we do that we have a blessed life but we have also blessed the Lord greatly. We see this in the next parable starting in verse 31 when Jesus sits “on the throne of his glory…all of the nations will be gathered to Him“. And this is when the great Shepherd will divide his flock of sheep from the goats. This is about people’s attitudes. The sheep obey, the goats rebel. And here we find that if we help the helpless and feed the hungry and bless the poor then it’s as if we’ve done it to Jesus. And He is glorified. And of course to those who do not have the Holy Spirit they cannot bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit which shows the layers of disobedience from what Jesus called them to do. Not only do we see the point but this is crucial to truly understand Philippians 2:12.
v. 12. Here Paul desires for Christians to “work out their own salvation.” Many try to say that this means that through “works” (doing good things for God) we can earn salvation. This is one of the most misunderstood and miss quoted verses in the Bible, but let’s start at the beginning. Paul starts with “therefore” and as we know that means that he’s building off of what he just said. And he just said that every knee will bow to Jesus which will give glory to God. Next Paul tells those he loves (“beloved“) that they should continue to “obey” – which sounds a lot like the attitude of the sheep who obey Jesus, right? He says that they shouldn’t do these things in order to please him but whether he’s watching or he’s gone they should do them. Very reminiscent of what we studied in Ephesians 6:6 where workers weren’t supposed to work with “eye-service, as men pleasers” but instead to God. Then he says “to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” If we take this as meaning that we are supposed to do works to earn salvation then none of the rest of the verse or the chapter or the Bible makes any sense! But if we recognize that Paul is saying to “work OUT our salvation” as opposed to “working FOR our salvation, then it all makes sense. You see it is God who has worked it IN and it’s up to us to work it OUT. Did we so quickly forget that Philippians 1:6 says, “He who has started a good work in you will be faithful to complete it”? We do not work out at the gym to create muscles, God has given us those, we work out at the gym to build our muscles. Doesn’t that make sense? So to recap: Every knee will bow to Jesus (“therefore“) because we obey him as faithful sheep (“obey”) since he has worked the salvation in we are supposed to work it out, which will give glory to God.
So the next question is, how do we do that? With “fear and trembling”. This doesn’t mean that we’re scared, why would we be afraid of a God who died for our sins? It means that we are in awe. That we have respect for the cost of our salvation and we feel the weight of the responsibility to work it out. This “working it out” means to bear fruit. Again reminiscent of the talents that the master gave to his servants. Now maybe it will click with you…the master gives the talents – the servants don’t even work for them. But they are responsible for what they do with it. Have you been blessed with many gifts from the Holy Spirit? Do you use them for the glory of God with fear and trembling? Or do you squander them burying them in the dirt along with your head? I challenge you to heed the words of the Master, give Him glory, do the work you were called to do. And at the end of days, when all people are giving God glory, you’ll be doing it willfully, having bore fruit, instead of begrudgingly, on your way to hell.