A Work in Progress

Such a Great Salvation (3)

Such-a-Great-Salvation_250pxTherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12, 13

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Work Out, Not For
Every true Christian understands that the gift of salvation is not a matter of works. We are saved by grace, through faith, and this whole wonderful benefit is the gift of God, not the result of works (Eph. 2:8-10).

But while we’re not saved by works, we’re not saved without them. We are saved unto good works, Paul explained. Faith without works is dead, is not true faith at all, but merely a kind of social or cultural mimicry that lacks saving benefit (Jms. 2:14-26).

You Gotta Want It

Such a Great Salvation (2)

Such-a-Great-Salvation_250pxWhat shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. Psalm 116:12, 13

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Got it, but Want it More
We sometimes encounter in the book of Psalms what might strike us as a strange request on the part of the writer. Here’s an example of what I mean from Psalm 119:123: “My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” Or again, from verse 81 of this psalm: “My soul longs for your salvation…” We find a similar request in Psalm 80:3: “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

More, Always More

Such a Great Salvation (1)

Such-a-Great-Salvation_250pxTherefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? Hebrews 2:1-3

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The Danger of Neglect
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years about yard work, it’s this: If you neglect your lawn, it can get away from you quickly.

I enjoy taking care of our lawn. But there have been times when, for one reason or another, I have not been able to get to my yard work as consistently as I should. And it shows. Dandelions and crab grass appear as if from nowhere. Brown and bare spots emerge to blight what was a verdant stand of grass. All my edges lose their definition, as the grass breaks out of the bounds I’ve set for it and grows into sidewalks and garden beds.

...But Not to Invent Standards

The Limits of Politics (7)

Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray...” Amos 2:4

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When politicians do well
We recall that politics is the science of government, and government has been instituted by God for the good of the governed. Politicians do well when they govern according to the divine plan, as revealed in Scripture, which is able to equip us for every good work.

To Ensure Justice...

The Limits of Politics (6)

“Justice and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20

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The exercise of justice involves securing the parameters of order within which goodness may arise and people may flourish in a society.

It is the duty of government to ensure justice, to keep the boundaries clear and firm, and to afford ample opportunity for each member of the society to enjoy and express goodness. Government must act for justice when a boundary has been infringed, a liberty violated, and, thus, the cause of goodness interrupted.

...But Not to Make Us Good

The Limits of Politics (5)

Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly.” 1 Samuel 13:11-13

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Good and not good
Israel was about to engage a major battle with her arch-enemy, the Philistines. Samuel had instructed Saul that, before the people should go into battle, they should make an offering to the Lord. Samuel explained that he would come to Gilgal to make that offering, and Saul should wait for him there. But Saul became nervous, watching the clock for Samuel to arrive.

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