Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Philippians 2:10 and 11 say, “That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” We have seen that the name is the expression of the sum total of what the Lord Jesus is in His Person and work. In the name of Jesus every knee will bow, and every tongue openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This implies calling on the name of the Lord. When we call on the Lord’s name, we have the reality of bowing our knees to Him. Paul’s word about bowing our knees in verse 10 and confessing in verse 11 implies that as we bow our knees to the Lord, we call on His name. We confess the Lord’s name openly by calling on Him.
We have pointed out again and again that Philippians is a book on the experience of Christ. Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus is a way to experience Him and enjoy Him. Many of us can testify that before we began to call on the Lord’s name, we did not have much experience of Him or enjoyment of Him. But when we call on the Lord, we spontaneously exercise our spirit and thereby touch the Lord who dwells in our spirit. As the life-giving Spirit in our spirit, the Lord is the fresh spiritual air for our enjoyment and experience. We would encourage all those who have recently come into the church life to practice calling on the name of the Lord. Many of us can testify how much we enjoy Him by calling on His name. Just as it is very helpful to breathe deeply of fresh air for the cleansing of our system, so we need to breathe deeply of the spiritual air by calling on the name of the Lord. By calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, we are stirred in spirit and even set on fire. Let us all learn to call, “O Lord Jesus,” from the depths of our being. In this way we shall worship the Lord and openly confess Him.
In this message we shall consider the matter of working out our salvation. In 2:12 Paul says, “So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only as in my presence, but now much rather in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” To work out our own salvation is to carry it out, to bring it to the ultimate conclusion. We have received God’s salvation, which has as its climax to be exalted by God in glory as the Lord Jesus was (v. 9). We need to carry out this salvation, to bring it to its ultimate conclusion, by our constant and absolute obedience with fear and trembling. We have received this salvation by faith. Now we must carry it out by obedience. This includes the genuine oneness in our soul (v. 2). To receive salvation by faith is once for all; to carry it out is lifelong.
In verse 12 Paul charges us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Fear is the inward motive; trembling is the outward attitude.
In verse 13 Paul goes on to say, “For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.” The word for at the beginning of this verse gives the reason we need to obey always. It is because God operates in us. In God’s economy we have the Lord Jesus as our pattern (vv. 6-11), as the standard of our salvation (v. 12), and we also have God operating in us both the willing and the working to carry out our salvation, to bring it to its ultimate conclusion. It is not that we by ourselves carry it out, but that God operates in us to do it. The only thing we need to do is to obey the inner operating of God. The willing Paul speaks of here is inward, whereas the working is outward.
In verses 12, 13, 15, and 16 we have four wonderful matters: salvation (v. 12), God operating in us (v. 13), lights or luminaries (v. 15), and the word of life (v. 16). The salvation in verse 12 is actually the very God who operates in us in verse 13. The One who operates in us both the willing and the working for His good pleasure is Himself our salvation. As believers, we are children of God, children of the One who is operating in us. Because we are children of God, we most assuredly have the divine life and divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). How could a child not have the life and nature of his father? It is simply not possible for someone to be born of a particular person and not have the life and nature of that person. In the same principle, it is not possible for us to be genuine children of God, born of Him, and not have His life and nature. We have been truly born of God and not merely adopted by Him.
When we say that as children of God we have the life and nature of our Father, some accuse us of teaching what they call “evolution into God.” We definitely do not claim that man is evolving into the Godhead. However, we definitely teach according to the Word of God that, as true believers in Christ, we have experienced a divine birth. God has actually been born into us, and thereby we have His life and nature. We all may boast not in our first birth, but in the second, the divine birth which made us children of God.
Because we are children of God with the life and nature of God, we shine as lights in the world. The Greek word rendered lights in 2:15 means “luminaries which reflect the light of the sun.” Every child of God is a stone reflecting the light which comes from Christ, God’s unique Son. In this universe there is only one source of light, and this source is God. As those luminaries, we also hold forth the word of life.
These four important matters are very subjective and experiential. We have received a salvation which is God Himself. Now there is operating in us this very God, the One who is real in our experience as our subjective salvation. He is not dormant, passive, or idle. His operating in us is His energizing in us. How wonderful that we have been born of this energizing God! Hence, we have His energizing life and nature. We are the energetic children of the energizing God! Spontaneously we reflect the light which comes from God as the universal source. In the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, we shine as lights, as luminaries, in the world. Therefore, we can hold forth the word of life to those around us. This is to take Christ as our pattern and to work out our salvation.
If the believers in Philippi worked out their salvation in this way, they would make Paul very happy. If all the saints in all the churches would work out their salvation according to the items in these verses, all those who serve the churches, the apostles and elders, would be happy. To work out our salvation is to have the genuine experience of Christ and enjoyment of Christ.
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