Every now and then you come across a curious wording in the New Testament and wonder if you’ve missed something vital to your understanding of the Christian experience. That was the case when I discovered this portion of a verse tucked away in Philippians 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; “. I had mostly heard from the pulpit that God through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ brings about salvation. It is the ultimate gift of grace to those who accept and believe it.
No amount of effort on my part could earn such a gift. The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:8,9 states it clearly; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God; not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”
When we feel the pressure to perform in order to merit our salvation we need to grab hold of this truth and be reminded that it doesn’t work that way.
And yet this phrase, “work out your own salvation”, cannot be ignored. We must proceed beyond just Philippians 2:12 and combine it with verse 13, “for it is God who is at work in you.” The Renovare’ Spiritual Formation Bible explains it this way; “Our relationship with God, our “salvation” is a cooperative venture. God works salvation in, and we work salvation out. God initiates transformation by stimulating our desire to follow him, inspiring acts expressing that desire, providing strength to persevere. We, in turn, respond by deciding to follow, acting on God’s inspiration, and choosing to persevere.”
We are talking about completing a process that God initiated and that God sustains. In my experience it has helped me to think of the Christian life as being a journey. It is truly the ultimate workout—with all of the challenges we face and the choices we must make along the way. If God is so active and involved then we shouldn’t slack off. We need to exercise our spiritual muscles, keep in shape, and set worthy goals in our worship and service.
Let’s do the work salvation requires—not in our own strength, for it is God who is energizing and creating in us the power and desire. On the home page of Worship150.com you will find the lyric video for the song, “I Can Do All Things (Phil. 4:13)”. The song speaks to our experience of the saving grace of God through Christ in real time. May the truth of Philippians 4:13 serve to energize us all.
At the time of this posting I am launching Worship150.com with “fear and trembling”. With a certain reverence and sensitivity before God I am sharing my heart for worship and my own experience as one who is making the journey. If anything offered on this site assists God’s people with insight and inspiration for the journey—may it be to the glory of God and God alone.