Sermon by Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: Fixer Upper (Making the Changes that Matter Most), Week 5 – “Working Out & Working In”


  • FOUNDATION: In week 1, we considered the foundation you are building your life upon.
  • CLARITY: In week 2, we suggested that you first become clear about what needs to change in your life and what it may cost you to change it.
  • PLANS: In week 3, we considered the balance between God’s sovereignty and our own plans.  We noticed that, in order to see change happen, we need to take initiative and make plans, but we should also include God in those plans.
  • DEMO DAY: In week 4, we examined the need to tear some things down in order to build new things up.
  1. Today, we get to work! Start by reading Philippians 2:12-13: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence– continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
  1. Circle the words from the sermon title found in these verses: “work out” and “works in.” What do you notice? What questions come to your mind?
  1. Read Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.

At first glance, it appears that the Philippians 2 passage conflicts with Ephesians 2:8-9, even though both are in the New Testament, and both were written by Paul.  Explain in your own words how both of these can be true at the same time.

  1. When Scripture speaks of salvation, it teaches that I am saved, and I am also being saved.  To get at these two concepts, John Wesley described salvation as both “instantaneous” and “gradual”. Salvation is instantaneous in that there is a moment when, from God’s perspective, each of us crosses over a line and is saved. After that moment, if we were to die, we would go to heaven and be with God.  But salvation is also gradual, in that the effects of it in my life work out gradually. Describe to your group the moment you were saved.
  1. Now share about some things that have gradually been changing in you since that moment.
  1. What does it mean to “work out” our salvation? To help us understand this, it’s good to look at other parts of the Bible and get the bigger picture, like Philippians 3:12-14: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  1. How does Philippians 3:12-14 help you understand what it means to “work out” your salvation?
  1. Rick Warren explains Philippians 2:12 this way: “This verse, written to believers, is not about how to be saved, but how to grow. It does not say “work for” your salvation, because you can’t add anything to what Jesus already did. During a physical “workout,” you exercise to develop your body, not to get a body.”  What does Rick Warren mean by that?
  1. The words, “with fear and trembling” could be misunderstood to mean that we’re supposed to be terrified of God and what He might do to us. To help us better understand that phrase, Pastor Trevor told about a very important vase that he owns.  How does Pastor Trevor’s vase story help us understand what it means to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling”?
  1. You can tell how important something is to you, by looking at how you are using the following three things:
  • Your schedule (your time)
  • Your money
  • Your energy.
  1. If we were to stop here, this could lead to a version of Christianity that Pastor Trevor called “suck it up and just try harder” – which “leaves people broken and burnt out on trying to look religious.” If you have ever been part of a church or a group of Christians where this was the mentality, what was that like?
  1. Philippians 2:13 helps us see that what is described in #11 above is not the version of Christianity that Paul intends us to live. Paul writes there, “for it is God who works in you.” Pastor Trevor closed with two points for us to remember:

God works; therefore you can work:  How does the fact that God is working in you help you to work on the changes that need to happen in your life?  What difference does it make to know that God is working in you?

  1. Satan’s intent is to destroy our lives and make a mockery of Jesus Christ, and he primarily does that through discouraging us about whether change is really possible. Why is this such an effective strategy for him to use?

Philippians 4:13 assures us, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

God is working; therefore you must work: What did Pastor Trevor mean by this?

  1. Refusing to work on an issue you know needs to change is actually sin, and delaying obedience is itself a form of disobedience. Take a moment to consider whether there is an area where you sense God wants you to change, but you have been putting it off. What are some steps you could take to obey God regarding that?

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