Fifty Days of Pentecost Devotional Series — Wednesday, April 21

Philippians 2:9-13 (ESV)

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.

Our text for this week is found in Philippians 2:9-13. The passage begins with a declaration of one of the clearest statements in the New Testament about the aim of God. God’s redemptive character drives His central focus: that one day every knee would bow, and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The entirety of Scripture provides an accurate and authoritative record of God’s plan of redemption. God is the initiator and the fulfiller of this redemptive plan. Anyone who makes the declaration that Jesus is Lord is emphatically declaring that Jesus is unique, and salvation comes only through the redemptive work that Jesus accomplished on the Cross. (vs. 9-11)

But that passage goes on to say, once we make that declaration we must keep on moving. While the Lord accepts us as we are, it is a reasonable expectation that we will not stay in that place of self-destructive behavior and decision making. We are told to work out our salvation. (12) That does not mean we are on our own, it implies that, once we start, we should not quit halfway to the goal. As Eugene Peterson (the author of the Message) has often said, following Jesus is a “long obedience in the same direction.” We are told to continue following Christ with fear and trembling. That is not a fear that would drive us to hide from God; it is a realization that without God we cannot effectively face life nor create an existence that is pleasing to God.

We finally see in verse 13 that this process of following Jesus is something we cannot do on our own. The idea that we chose God over other options is not a consideration here. God’s power (Paul uses a word that we would translate as energy) is necessary to even want to seek God’s redemptive plan. We can’t do that on our own. The initiative of God is the only way we would ever want what God offers. That same “energy” that draws us to salvation also empowers us to complete the action of living a life that represents our Lord to all who would observe us in everyday life.

This short passage is a concise description of God’s intent: that humanity would recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In addition, it states clearly that only God’s power can start the process and yield the kind of fruit that demonstrates that the statement, “Jesus is Lord,” is not only a declaration, but a life lived through the power of God.     

Byron Klaus
Vice President, ChildHope      

See other devotionals in this series.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.