What’s on your bucket list?
Have you ever heard of the term “Bucket list”? Do you have
It is the must-do things before you die.
I asked someone I know the same question.
“What’s on your bucket list?”
She said “I want to go Ireland.”
People have something really want to do and try hard to
make it happen.
It could be holidays like my friend, buying a house or paying
off a mortgage, marrying a right person, having a secure job
or business whatever it might be.
Today we are looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
I think the Apostle Paul had his bucket list as well.
Obviously Paul didn’t use the words “bucket list”,
but there was something he really wanted to do for Jesus
who saved him and called him as an Apostle.
His greatest concern was…
“Is the gospel advancing?”
“Is Christ being preached?”
“Is His name being glorified?
These are somewhat different from the items in our bucket
lists, aren’t they?
Let’s hear what Paul has to say about his bucket list from the
letter to the Philippians.
The passage begins with the word “Therefore”(v 12).
When we come across the word “therefore” in the Bible, we
are supposed to ask a question
“What is the “therefore” there for?
The answer is that the author is pointing us back to
something that he has already been explaining to us.
Paul is pointing the previous verses like 1:27 and 2:10-11.
Paul is saying in 1:27
“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of
and in 2:10-11, explaining the story of Christ’s humble
It is Jesus’ attitude that is humble and obedient, even
enduring for us his death on the cross.
Now he relates this Jesus’ attitude to our purpose in life in
verses 12-18, today’s passage.
This is a very important thing in this day because all around
us people are desperately searching for purpose in life, and
very often they are finding for it in wrong places.
Now Paul is saying there is a way that is helpful to find the
true meaning and purpose of life. He is saying we can find it
through the example of the life of Jesus.
Now Let’s have a look at verse 12-13.
“12 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 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in
order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Now, when God saves us, he does at least two things for us.
He does more than two things, but l’d like to highlight two
things this morning.
First, he accepts us. Second, he changes us.
Let me tell you more.
First when he accepts us, he forgives us. In other words, he
accepts us as his children.
It is a very precious truth that God accepts us
not because of something in us,
not because we deserve to be accepted,
not because of our good work
but he accepts us not for anything in us,
but for Christ alone, when we put our trust in him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through
faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by
works, so that no one can boast.
Second, God changes us. It is amazing that he not only
accepts us, but also he changes us.
Have a look at verse 13
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to
fulfill his good purpose.”
His work continues after our salvation. He is working on us.
In other words, he makes us to be more like Jesus Christ day
by day from the moment right after he saves.
In other words, he is active to makes us into people he wants
us to be.
This is a beautiful thing.
Now we come to a hard bit in verse 12, Paul’s saying
“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
I want you to be crystal clear about what it means, and
what that doesn’t mean.
What does Paul mean?
Does he mean that we save ourselves by our work to gain
salvation with fear and trembling? No.
What he is really talking about is how Christians become
more mature, more like Jesus Christ.
Paul is saying we must continue to grow not only in faith but
also in character.
This is what it means to be a person saved by God through
faith in Jesus.
Paul’s saying is not that God accepts you, and no change is
but change is now possible in your words, thoughts, and
That’s why Paul is confident to say
“he who began a good work in you will carry it on to
completion until the day of Christ Jesus (1:6).”
This is one of the most important passages in the Bible that
talks about sanctification.
We will always wrestle with sin until we breathe our final
but God is actively and powerfully at work changing us so
that we say no to sin
and become more and more like Jesus Christ,
That’s what sanctification is all about.
Now let me outline what Paul is saying about sanctification
The first thing, Paul says is to continue to obey.
Verse 12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always
obeyed – not only in my presence, but much more in my
absence.” (v 12 a)
“Continue to obey.” So Paul is calling you and me to obey.
Paul is saying obedience is our purpose in life.
It is essential that we, as believers, submit ourselves under
the authority of God.
Today there are some people who encourage us saying
“You don’t need to worry about obedience because God
accepts you anyway.”
But it’s not what the Bible says.
Our obedience plays important role to God’s great purpose
in our Christian lives.
Paul is saying that God wants us to obey from the heart.
The second thing Paul says is to “work out our salvation”.
His message is not “save yourselves”, or “work together with
God for your salvation”.
He is saying be active in your sanctification.
That is what is meant by “Work out your salvation!”
The third thing Paul says is “Work out your salvation with fear
The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge… the godly
person fears the Lord (Proverbs 9:10).
Paul is simply saying there that you and I are to continue to
obey, working out our likeness of Jesus Christ with fear and
The fourth thing Paul says is that “God is at work in you.”
I think it is the most compelling thing in our Christian life.
“For it is God works in us (you) to will and to act in order to
fulfill his good purpose.” (v 13).
This is what encourages us so much.
Salvation is 100% God’s work,
but in Sanctification we have roles to play by what?
What encourages us so much is that how God leads us in our
Would you please turn to Philippians 1:6. I read it for us.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in
you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ
So it is crystal clear that one of our important purposes in life
is obedience to God.
That’s why Paul is saying it is important to obey God and
submit to his authority (v 12).
And. This is a big and “And” “he who began a good work in
you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ
That is what Jesus did when he came to the world to be one
of us and he died on the cross.
He is still doing that until when?
“until the day of Christ Jesus.”
So that is what Paul had in his bucket list “obedience to God”
“submitting under the authority of God.
Have a look at verses 14 -16. Paul gives us some practical
applications for us there.
“14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children
of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be
able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor
This was Paul’s great desire for the people in Philippi, and it is
God’s desire for us Tamworth Community Presbyterian.
We are not to retreat from the world, but we are to live for
God in the world.
How can we live for God in this world?
We must recognize that the world is crooked and warped.
The world has its goals like success, pleasure, sex, money,
power. But these are not our goals.
Of course God gives us good things as such, but they are not
our ultimate goals themselves.
Paul lists three specific Christian goals here.
First, we are to do all things “without complaining or
Second, we are to be blameless and pure before other
Third, our lives are to be blameless in the eyes of God.
It is pretty hard, isn’t it?
Let me tell you this.
Jesus Christ showed the way in his example (v 5-11) from the
throne of heaven to the cross.
It is something we can’t imagine.
“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality
with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of
a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled
himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a
cross” (v 6-8).
The main point Philippians 2 is the Christian’s purpose in life.
We are to be humble and obedient to God.
We are to follow Jesus’ example.
Our purpose in life is to follow Jesus Christ as he obeyed God.
I think Paul’s bucket list is full of the Christian’s purpose.
Humble and obedient to God,
becoming like Jesus Christ day by day,
working out his salvation with fear and trembling,
keeping himself blameless and pure before God and others
I think Paul found it hard too.
I mean while he found the gospel work fulfilling and
rewarding, he would find it challenging as well.
But he knew God didn’t let him to live by his own effort.
Also God does not let us to live by our own effort but by
grace in Jesus Christ.
He has come to dwell within our hearts,
He works in our hearts that we are able to live God’s purpose
in our lives and in our church.
He is not a God who comes to us once a year. Or once a
He dwells within our hearts continuously and has promised
never leaves us or forsakes us.
What a great God he really is!
With a sermon like this I always feel we need a really amazing
story that closes it all out powerfully – so we all say wow, I
wish I could be like that.
But I don’t have that story today.
But I do have this.
I have 30? Stories in this room.
You are amazing.
You are Tamworth Community Presbyterian.
We all probably struggle with broken relationships, failing
finances, chronic illness, depression and anxiety, terrible
You shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of
Probably we don’t do world shattering things.
But you are blameless and pure, children of God without
fault in a crooked and warped generation not because
what you do but because what Christ has done and who we
are in him.
You witness the love of God and reach out to the community
in obeying the command of the Lord without fear.
You are the amazing stories of God.
(Final)May each of us respond to this gracious truth by being
obedient to him and take courage until Jesus comes or calls