Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (12) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (14) Do all things without grumbling or questioning, (15) that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (16) holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (17) Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (18) Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
We do not question whether Christ willingly died on the Cross, and whether Jesus was fully aware of other possibilities. It is linked up with the fact that the work of the Trinity is mysterious in its intricacies, but not in its effect. Jesus was fully God and yet He had full freedom, yet went willingly, although all these (the plan of salvation) has been from eternity past. Bottom line; He was obedient to the Will of God, which God the Father, Son and Spirit had agreed upon from eternity past (before the foundation of the world). Yet, He was not a slave, but did it willingly with much passion (the Passion of Christ as is historically taught).
Is it a wonder that Paul here brings this into play in the life of the Christian in verse 12 and 13? Work out your salvation with fear and trembling… obey the Scriptures (which is God’s Words and Revealed Will), with much vigour and right motivation, with full acknowledgment that it IS God who is working in making you willing and able. Any contradictions? Spiritually, there is none whatsoever. Contextually, no true Christian should be burdened with the intricacies of the work of God to STOP him/her from doing good. It didn’t stop Christ from going to the Cross and fulfilling the Scriptures, did it? Yet it was a planned event from Genesis 3:15.
Marvelous Glory! God’s Glory!
When man is giving 100%, we know that it is because God has given 100%. No contradictions, unless you humanise God in a mold that limits His Sovereignty and thus make Him so much cheapen. The bible is very clear on these traits of our Lord and this is the sort of thing that drives the Christian onward. A good example being Acts 18:9-10 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, (10) for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Human responsibility and God’s sovereignty. They really go hand-in-hand.
So go ahead and preach because it is God who Wills the elect and brings them to salvation. Go preach because God is the one who regenerates the heart to enable the people to cry out in repentance! What assurance that Jesus truly is mine in my heart for what He has done in me first!
What a caution for those who thinks it is by mere profession, who thinks they ‘know’ their hearts… who depend on the false notion of ‘once safe, always safe’ when they only see partly (in fact, they see the ungodly side) in physical responses. For time truly will reveal these ‘phony professions’ as what they are. Pity those who are never able to distinguish the truly backslidden from the unconverted; being confounded by human ‘willfulness’.
Soli Deo Gloria!