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Philippians 4a: “Share the Gospel. Live the Gospel!” (2:12-14)

In our fourth sermon in the series, we are starting to see a theme emerge: Paul wants the Philippians to DO something (to “share the gospel”) but he also wants them to BE something (to “live the gospel”). Join us as we discuss what he means by “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” as well as other material in 2:12-14.

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****** SERMON NOTES ******



  • Already covered a lot of ground in Philippians!
  • The last two sermons have been out of order!
  • Let me summarize!
  • …it is increasingly apparent to me that there are basically two themes: “Do, and Be.” 
  1. DO: “Share the Gospel”
    1. Participate in the Gospel (1:5-7)
      1. Fund missions
      2. Pray for missionaries
      3. Care for missionaries
    2. Preach the gospel (implied) (1:12-18)
    3. Conduct yourselves worthy of the Gospel (1:27-30)
      1. Strive for the Gospel
      2. United
      3. Fearless
      4. Enduring suffering

…seg, “Having this attitude…”

  1. BE: “Live the Gospel”
    1. Like Paul
      1. Humble self, elevate others (1:1-2)
      2. Love people truly, through prayer (1:3-11)
      3. (Don’t be like the petty pastors) (1:12-20)
      4. Prioritize the well-being of others over your own (1:21-26)
    2. Like Christ
      1. Didn’t cling to status
      2. Humbled Himself
      3. Took a lowly role
      4. Voluntarily accepted suffering
      5. Prioritized the wellbeing of others over His own
      6. Prioritized obedience to the Father over His own will

…summary: and so… 

“DO: share the Gospel 

(participate, preach, conduct yourselves worthy of)

“BE like Christ 

(humble, loving, not petty: be like Christ)

The Gospel matters. Our attitudes matter.

Note: I want to correct an error I made when I preached two weeks ago.

I said something like, “Jesus lowered Himself, and went to the Cross, to raise me up.” 

…this is not actually what the passage says!

1. Primary motivation was obedience to the Father

  • Important, because speaks to the fundamental motivations of God’s heart

2. There is a difference between eros and agape love

A. Eros love

– Your beauty fuels my desire

– You complete me

– I need you

– Can be romantic: part of normal human relations 

(because “it is not good for a man/woman to be alone”)

…but taken too far, can become needy, clingy — can 

put weight on relationship, destroy the person

“You complete me!” (run away, girl! he needs to complete 


B. Agape love 

God is already complete, in Himself

– Like mature, happy, married couple with kids, seeking adoption

– Already complete! Already filled!

– …but seeking to invite another in

– If rejected, may be saddened…but not crushed

– Sad because wanted best for child

– But not crushed because:

– Love not dependent on child’s attractiveness

– Happiness not dependent on child’s 


– This is what Henry Cloud means by “boundaries”

– John Eldridge, “Wild at Heart”

– This may sound insulting, to those who are used to 

hearing “I need you” as being the same as “I love you”

– …but this is profoundly hopeful!

– God, in His great love, is extending to us an invitation!

– Come, join the family!

– Not because we are amazing, but because He is!

– And because, “God so loved the world, that He 

gave His one and only son, so that who ever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!” 

…this is what it is all about! 

This is the “gospel,” the “word of life,” mentioned in 2:16

seg. And as we have seen, Paul is calling the Philippians to

DO: Share the Gospel (and)

BE: Live the Gospel

 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

1. “In presence or absence”

  • God is present, but not visible to us
  • We are often motivated by wanting to please our pastors, mentors, friends
  • This can be a good thing!

2. “Work out your salvation”

  • Not:
    • “Work ‘for’”
    • “Work to earn”
  • …but “work out”
    • You already have it!
    • It is already good!
    • Make it better!
    • Like..
      • Working on your business/job
      • “Working out” (on your body)
      • Working on your marriage, family, personal relationships
  • … “live worthy of the Gospel”

“DO: share the Gospel 

(participate, preach, conduct yourselves worthy of)

“BE like Christ 

(humble, loving, not petty: be like Christ)

3. With Fear and Trembling

  1. Fear losing salvation?
  • Recent conversation with a Catholic, who believed this was a “fear of losing salvation” 
  • There are verses that challenge us to ask whether we are truly Christians
    • Mat. 7:22-24 – No personal relationship with Jesus
    • Mat. 10:33 – Denying Jesus (saying you’re not a Christian)
    • Heb. 10:29 – Treating forgiveness as a license to sin
    • …but that is not the context here.
      • They are truly Christians (1:1)
      • They are not living in sin, or else Paul would have called them out on it!
    • …why, then, the fear and trembling? 
      • As it turns out, the passage itself tells us

B. “For it is God…”

  • E.g. meeting the Prime Minister
  • Harkens back to 1:27-28 “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel”
    • Philippi was a Roman colony in Macedonia
    • All citizens were automatically granted Roman citizenship
    • …which was a huge deal!
    • Citizens held themselves with pride, trying to “live worthy” of their title
  • We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared before hand that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

C. “Both to will and to work”

A. There is a great mystery here!

  1. How God works and we work
  2. How God is in control, and we still have free will
  3. Why God works more in some than He does in others

(was sorely tempted to preach an entire sermon on this! Instead, recorded a podcast, you can listen to later)

…but to summarize, whether Calvinist, Arminian, Dispensationalist, or Molinist, all should agree that…

B. Some things are very clear!

  1. We need to work
    • Share the Gospel! 
    • Live the Gospel!
  1. We work with fear & trembling
    1. This is God at work in us!!
  2. But we are not alone! God is helping us!
    1. He Gives us more desire to do right
    2. He helps us actually do right
  3. We are working according to His “Good pleasure”
    1. Pleasure
      1. God’s passion is behind us
      2. God really wants the message to get out!
    2. Good pleasure
      1. God is really good!
      2. Sometimes lost with Calvinist debates (and theology in general)
        1. God can seem distant, confusing, stern: just, but not kind
      3. …but God truly desires for all to be saved! 2 Pt. 3:9

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

      1. …but God “so loved the World..” John 3:16

seg. …and so we need to work on our own salvation, and God will work alongside of us, giving us the will and the work to complete His good pleasure. Let’s continue…

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.


  • We are really sensing a theme here!
  • It isn’t enough just to speak or do 
  • God also cares about our attitudes! 

“Do all things”

  • Pairs nicely with Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Colossians 3:23, “…your whole being, as unto God, not unto men.”
  • …also, do it without grumbling, or disputing
  • Attitude matters!

“So that you will prove yourself to be”

  1. Blameless among a perverse generation
  2. Innocent among a crooked generation
  • Not earn it
  • …but show it, demonstrate it. Live according to it
  • “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”
  • It is both our message and our attitude that makes a difference!

“Holding forth the Word of Life”

– This is the Gospel message!

– The precious message that God has made a way of salvation for us!“DO: share the Gospel 

    • Fund the Gospel!
    • Preach the Gospel
    • Conduct yourselves worthy of the Gospel!

“BE: Live the Gospel 

  • Honour others
  • Love truly
  • Live humbly
  • Don’t be petty
  • Be like Christ!

…Live in the fear of the Lord, 

…Work out of the pleasure of the Lord,

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 

…let us pray

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