Thursday, November 9, 2017

God's Power Within Us

"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" (Philippians 2:12–13).

Let's consider how God’s providence assists us in our sanctification. How does God’s providence help us grow in grace? Philippians 2:12 almost seems to be advocating righteousness by works. That is, the only way we’re going to be saved is if we work hard day and night with fear and trembling, under the lash of God’s threats. Well, Paul’s statement might be taken that way if we think of salvation as something that only comes at the end of the road. In that case, perhaps it would depend on our efforts.

In reality, salvation happens at the beginning of the road, but it continues all along the road. The Christian life is a walk. There is progression in our salvation, progressions through steps and stages. We grow in our sanctification before God. And God calls on us to strive to put our own effort into that holy walk.

Our efforts would be useless were it not for the fact that God is working with us, undergirding our efforts. How different this is from what we saw yesterday concerning God’s “concurrence” operating in the lives of the wicked! God does not actively stir the wicked to evil, though He may choose to remove some of His own restraints. However, God does actively stir in our hearts to provoke us to righteousness.

Does that make us mere puppets, manipulated by God? Not at all. God does not work in us apart from us; rather, God works in us with us. Our relationship is personal. God regenerates us by a “monergistic” sovereign act, without our prior knowledge or help. God brings growth in us by working with us “synergistically” as we cooperate with His leading.

Have you heard the advice, “Let go and let God”? The error of this teaching is it advocates man’s passivity while God does the work. On the contrary, you’ve been invested with the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of actively engaging the Christian life. Where have you been “uncooperative”?