In the world of journalism they are known as the 5 Ws and 1 H.
In both college and high school journalism classes, they are considered the bedrock, the foundation, of how to write a credible news story. Even though “the journalism department” is now known as “the communications department” answering these five questions is still crucial to getting the story right.
The Apostle Paul certainly understood the importance of being specific in his letters to all the churches with which he corresponded by “snail mail.” He had to be completely clear to these first generation Christians about their Christianity and God’s expectations of a believer. And he had to get it right in the first draft, no going back and forth by email to explain it one more time.
So he used the 5Ws and the 1 H . . .
In his letter to the Philippians chapter 2 verses 12 to 18, Paul answers those questions in his explanation of how Christians can live out a victorious life:
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. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,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 skyas 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 in vain.But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Verse by verse, let’s answer the questions to understand exactly what Paul is telling us:
Children of God. He gets right to the point and speaks directly to “my dear friends” or “my beloved,” depending on the translation. He is talking to the redeemed, those of us whose lives have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Wasting no time yet again, he gives us our marching orders: “Work out your salvation”, “shine as lights in the world” and “work out the results of your salvation.” Basically, go out there and sweat a little, sacrifice, and surrender yourself for the cause of Christ.
In my absence. This Christianity thing is not going away, Paul says, and you will be the people of God who carry it out.
In a crooked, depraved, perverse generation. Yes, just like what happens today, so there will always be horrific crimes against humanity, says Paul.
Because God has done an incredible, miraculous work in you.
On this particular question, he spends the most time instructing believers. Here is his how-to list:
Without grumbling, arguing or complaining
Living clean, innocent lives
Holding firmly to God’s Word
Faithfully serving the God who saved you
Pouring out your life like an offering
In Philippians 2:13 Paul promises these New Testament churches that he will be rejoicing even if he loses his life because of sharing the gospel, a warning that hatred, discrimination, and bloodshed will be the result of their sacrifice. But God lives in you and gives you strength and since he is your power source, Paul says, allow that work to play itself out. The cause of Christ will be worth it all.
Salvation is just the beginning: Next steps include going, telling your story, discipling and teaching others and fulfilling the mission of God through the example of your life, discipleship of others, and planting churches.
In a nutshell, Paul is clear about the Christian’s marching orders:
Who? I . . .
What? will spread the good news of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection . . .
When? even when I am alone . . .
Where? to a horribly sinful world . . .
Why? because I have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood . . .
How? through my power source: the Holy Spirit.