Lord's Day Evening Meditations June 15, 2003

Philippians 2:12

"Work Out Your Own Salvation"

The tract entitled "Burke the Burglar" tells about Valentine Burke who was a noted burglar in St. Louis many years ago. D.L. Moody, the evangelist, was going to preach in St. Louis and one of the big daily newspapers printed all that Mr. Moody said. The next morning someone threw a newspaper into Burke's cell where he was awaiting trial. A headline caught his eye: "How The Jailer At Philippi Got Caught." This interested Burke, who hated jailers, so he began to read the story of the salvation of the jailer of Philippi. At first he threw it down as "rot," but then he picked it up again, and the Holy Spirit started such a work in his soul that he was saved that same night.

Burke liked to curse jail guards and sheriffs, but the next morning he greeted the guard pleasantly. When he told the sheriff how he had been saved, the sheriff told the guard, "You had better keep an eye on Burke; he's playing the 'pious dodge.'" Burke was released shortly after and he started looking for a job. He couldn't find any in St. Louis so he went to New York, but with no success. Then he returned to St. Louis where he got a message from the sheriff that he was wanted at the court-house. The sheriff asked him what he had been doing and Burke told him how he had gone to New York to look for an honest job. "Have you kept a good grip on the religion you told me about?" Yes, Burke had not lost his faith. Then the sheriff told him how he had had him shadowed all the time that he was in New York because he suspected that his confession was a fraud. Burke had proved the reality of his faith and so the sheriff offered him a deputyship under him.

The point I want to make from this story is that, after Valentine Burke confessed the Lord as his Saviour, the sheriff said, "Keep an eye on Burke," and then he had him shadowed all the time he was in New York. When you confessed the Lord as your Saviour everyone started watching you to see what you were doing. "Ye are our epistle known and read of all men ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ." 2 Cor. 3:1 - 2. Over 60 years ago when I was newly saved I went to a gospel meeting in a brother's house. After the meeting I walked home with two friends and we talked about salvation. They said, "It's alright for you to talk about being saved; you don't do anything wrong." You see, I was being watched. About 50 years ago I was loading logs at night by moonlight on icy skids. Things were not going well. Afterwards the man working with me said, "You are always careful about your words, but you dropped a word tonight. Just one wrong word, and it was noticed!" "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." That is not the salvation of the soul; it is the salvation of your life. Have I honored the Lord in all that I have said and done today? The Apostle Paul wrote these exhortations because they are necessary.

We'll look at the believers in Ephesus in the Acts. They give us an example of our responsibility. Read Acts 19:8 - 10. Paul spent two years in the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus giving out "the word of the Lord Jesus." Who heard it? "All they which dwelt in Asia." Read verses 18 - 20. Evil books worth 50,000 pieces of silver were burned. "So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed." This was before the epistle to the Ephesians was written. Read chapter 20:19 - 27. There Paul says, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." The believers there had been fully taught in every way. In verses 28 - 35 Paul gave them warnings. "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." This is some who, occupied with themselves, want a preeminent place. But see how Paul had worked for them: "I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." These are profitable exhortations which, as believers, we need to take to heart.

The first Epistle of Paul to Timothy has a lot of exhortations in it. He had left Timothy in Ephesus "that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine." ch. 1:3. In verses 12 - 15 Paul gives a view of himself before he was saved. He calls himself the chief of sinners, because he had persecuted the church of God. The epistle continues with a lot of exhortations which are profitable for us. In the beginning of chapter 3 he gives the qualifications for someone in the office of an overseer. Read ch. 3:1 - 7. He must not be a novice, "lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation (fault) of the devil." v. 6. The fault of the devil was pride. Paul wrote, "If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." Gal. 6:3.

Read 1 Tim. 3:15. Do we realize what it is to be gathered to the Lord's name? A pillar stands firm and holds the building up. Do our everyday lives show what we are? Remember how we are living epistles; after Burke confessed the Lord he was watched. We have to be so careful in our daily lives. We see how though the believers at Ephesus had had so much teaching, still Timothy was left there to tell them more.

We'll go now to the Epistle to the Ephesians. It shows us our position - seated in heavenly places in Christ. We are blessed "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Eph. 1:3. In the Old Testament, prosperity on earth was a sign of God's blessing, but this has changed. Our blessings are now in heaven. Do we realize that our Saviour went to the cross, gave His life, was laid in the tomb, rose, ascended to heaven, and is now sitting at the right hand of God, and that our place is there in Him? That is how we are seen in Ephesians - heavenly citizens walking on earth. Do we show every day that we belong to heaven?

Read Eph. 1:4 - 12. We are adopted children and brought into God's family. We are "accepted in the Beloved." We have "redemption through His blood." We have an inheritance in Christ. In John 17 we see that we are loved with the same love as the Father has for the Son. That is our standing before God. What a place! it is beyond what words can express. These things should touch our hearts and make us desire, as living epistles, to show others what our Saviour is to us.

Read Eph. 2. Verses 2 & 3 show what the Ephesians were and what we were. Verses 5 - 7 show us what is true of every believer. Do we show it in our lives? We are also "fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." v. 19. Every believer belongs to the house of God. This should search our hearts. As I walk through this scene, does it show that I belong to the house of God? Remember, a believer is watched; the more prominent a place we take, the more we are watched.

Read chapter 4:11 - 29. Verse 14 warns about "every wind of doctrine" and cunning craftiness of men who "lie in wait to deceive." We need to be on our guard and have God's Word to guide us. "Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour." v. 25. In the Old Testament it seemed a very small thing to tell lies. But they didn't have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them as we do. "We are members one of another," so that my conduct affects you, and yours affects me. You can be angry about some things, but don't sin. Righteous anger is something seldom seen. v. 26. Verse 27 is very important. If after I am saved, I steal (v. 28), I am giving place to the devil. These are saints that the apostle is writing to. They were to work with their hands in order to have to give to those in need. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." Often we use a lot of light talk which is not profitable - it doesn't "minister grace unto the hearers." All these exhortations are necessary for us, to keep us so that we don't fall into the snare of the devil. E.B.