WORKING IT OUT OR WORKING IT UP Andy Hollifield 11-22-17
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling.
1 Kings 18:26-29 And they took the bullock which was given them, and dressed it, and they called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar that was made. (27) And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. (28) And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, until the blood gushed out upon them. (29) And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
The rest of this story can be found by reading on down through the 39th verse, although the main focus of the story was brought to a climax with only 63 words in a prayer by Elijah. This is a perfect biblical example of “working it up.” I have had the opportunity over the last 31 years of ministry to visit a lot of churches and the main difference I see between when I started and now is a dramatic decrease in the spirituality of churches. I am afraid that we are like Israel was throughout their history, we have been too blessed by God. We have been blessed so much that we have let everything in the world come before prayer and study and worship. Sure, we have more technology and more means of getting the gospel out than we have ever had before but we have less of a moving of the Holy Ghost in our churches than ever before. God hasn’t changed so that leaves only us, the church, that is responsible for the decline.
Our problem is that we don’t want to admit that we aren’t living as close to the Lord as we once did because that would require us to make some changes in our life and repent. We have gotten so comfortable with our routines and programs and activities and music that we often interpret emotion and excitement for the moving of the Spirit. When that is the case, it is no longer the Spirit of God that moves us but just pure emotion. I come from a shouting and praising God background where in my childhood I was privileged to see the true moving of the Spirit of God in our services at church. Even as a little boy, even before I got saved, I could tell that there was something different and real about those old saints. They didn’t jump up and holler or run the aisles just because they could, but rather sat in fear and reverence and admonition of the mighty hand of God until the Spirit moved on them. It’s kind of hard to really explain to someone who hasn’t ever been a part of that but if you ever have, nothing else will quite satisfy you. Oh, we might get along all right for a while, but all the while there is a hunger building for the Holy Ghost to fill the house and sit down upon us as it did in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. That may sound really old-fashioned to some, but before you discount it, look at the results. When folks used to believe in worshipping the God that they had actively lived for all week, it brought results. In Acts 2:41 the bible says the results were that about “three thousand souls” were saved that day and in verse 47 it says “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The Lord does the adding when true worship is going on and if there is none being added, we probably need to take a look at whether or not we are worshipping him in Spirit and truth as the bible says is a must in John 4:24. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him MUST worship him in Spirit and in truth.” If we lived it all week long like the old saints before us did, we would truly be ready to worship when we came to the Lord’s house on Sunday.
I am not trying to pass judgment on anyone except everyone. That is why I keep saying “we”. Matthew 7:20 says, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” I can name you some old saints that I knew as a kid, that I dreaded to see come to my church because I knew they would get carried away testifying and I knew it was real. I was just a kid anxious to get outside of the church and play back then but in the day we live in, the playing has been brought inside and it is the adults that are doing it. As a child I was raised to believe that God’s house was sacred and to be reverenced and you didn’t run and holler in the sanctuary unless you were worshipping the Lord. God’s house was a place like no other and it was the house of the creator of the universe; the one that gave us life. Paul said in Acts 17:28 “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” He was lifted up from the earth on the cross at Calvary, but if we don’t lift him up in our hearts and lives, how can we expect anyone to be drawn to him?
I probably would have to plead guilty to somewhat living in the past. I long for the days when we actually worshipped under the anointing hand of God instead of just “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof:” (2 Timothy 3:5). Paul also told Timothy at the end of that verse, “from such turn away.” To sum it all up: the reason we don’t see the results and the Spirit working as he has in days gone by, is because we would rather “work it up” than to live holy, consecrated, lives before God. I believe that is why that Paul told the Philippians to “work out” their own salvation. He wasn’t calling for a salvation by works, but for them to determine what was necessary in their own lives for them as individuals to live pleasing to God. Jesus said before he ascended, following his sermon of the beatitudes in Matthew 5:14 that “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” He continues in verse 15 saying, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” He then tells us in verse 16 to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see YOUR good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
This may sound discouraging like we are in a desperate situation as the church, not seeing souls added daily as it would please the Lord and we are. The good news is that God hasn’t changed according to James 1:17 where he says speaking of God”…with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” It can be fixed but we have to clean the globe. The old oil lamps put off fairly good light, especially when they were placed up high, until the globe got dirty. It could be burning just fine but with a dirty globe, it couldn’t shine light like it should. We need to clean our globe and it has to be done on a regular basis in order to keep the light shining. Don’t be satisfied with “working it up” but “work out” the soot off of your globe and “let your light so shine before men.” We can still see lost folk saved but they first have to be drawn to the Lord by us lifting him up. It still works like it always has, just like it did when we were drawn to him and repented of our sins and accepted him as our personal Savior. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!