Work Out Your Own Salvation

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1 Work Out Your Own Salvation Phil 2: So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; said In His discussion on marriage Christ brings out a principle that God established, when He Matt 19:6 2 6 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." The context of this passage is obviously marriage, but I think the principle is valid in all things of God. Whatever God has joined, be it husband and wife, love and obedience, Jn. 14:15, or anything else is just that, what God has joined together, and it is not within the realm of man s authority to separate them. In that simple principle put forth by Christ; 3 What God hath joined together, let no man separate! We see the truths which have been at the root of contentious viewpoints almost from the beginning. Most people, at least those who claim a faith, believe that that faith is absolutely necessary for their salvation. And that is what the Hebrew writer says in Heb 11:6 4 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. John also makes the point that he wrote for the purpose of generating belief in those who read his Gospel and that by believing they might have life through that belief in Christ John 20: but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. In truth, no one disputes the necessity of belief. I made the point last week that every religion on Earth demands belief in their tenets. Let s expand that statement here. The so-called religion of Satan worshipping, demands belief just like any other organized form of deity worship. But there is another point to be made here. Many choose to not recognize this, but the truth of it is absolutely valid. Webster s defines deity as; 1

2 6 1) a : the rank or essential nature of a god b : supreme being 2) a god or goddess as in the deities of ancient Greece or Rome 3) someone or something exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful Do you recognize the danger in that? What is it that man exalts to the position of deity? What is it that we exalt to the position of deity? Anything that we elevate to a position of reverence in our lives becomes, by definition, deity. Mind you, that doesn t necessarily mean to the exclusion of a belief in God. All too often a man who thinks he has a belief in God, has elevated something else to a position of reverence in his life. There are many in the Church who still seek after the things of this world; Money, possessions, fame, career. There are just as many who have elevated knowledge or science to that position. Yet, how many times do we see brethren compromising their faith in God because they struggle with what the world of science is saying. I have a question for you; why does accepting what science says when it is nothing more than a theory or best guess not constitute belief or faith but accepting what God says is? For years science promoted Evolution as the way man came to be. They had no proof, could not produce any solid evidence, they had only speculative conclusions that they presented as truth, so much so that the world accepted it and it now is mandatory teaching in our schools. You see, the acceptance of anything, regardless of how small or minor we may think it to be that is in contrast to God s word is a compromise that should not be made. I veered off track there a little bit, but I think the point is valid. Faith is required in everything we do or accept, obviously in religion, even religion that worships Satan, but also in our acceptance of the things the world presents as truth, no matter how trivial they may seem. God demands faith, as we saw in Heb. 11:6. But God also demands work. In James 2: For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Can it really be made any more clear than that? Without effort to obey, works, James says that whatever faith we may claim, is useless, vain, empty, dead. Faith is an absolute must in a man s salvation. That is what Phillip told the Eunuch, you must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But that faith is what, in us, is God at work, in us. Isn t that what we see in verse 13 of our text 8 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Faith is essential to our salvation, and yet work, God working in me, is, according to James. Just as essential. Any faith we might have, without obedience, is useless James 2: But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 2

3 God s truth is intended to generate within the honest heart faith, Rom. 10:17, but it is also intended 2 Tim 3: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. So, it should be plain to see, that God wants not only faith from His children but also obedience, faith. That is why He gave us what we need to be able to do His works. Here then is our first thought of discussion. If our salvation has already been accomplished in Christ, and it has 11 1) What must we work out? Look again at our text Phil 2: So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; There are a couple of points seen in this. 1) Don t forget who this passage is addressed to It is absolutely necessary to understand who is being addressed. There is a common thought of understanding of this passage that it is referring to non-believers, those who have yet to become Christians. They then say that the working out under discussion is the acceptance, the belief, that Jesus is the Christ. Then, once that work is accomplished salvation comes to the believer. The problem with that is Phil 1: Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: The letter of Philippians is addressed to Christians, including the Elders and Deacons. It is not written to non-believers, it is written to believers, so the only understanding of our text is that it is telling believers to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. See how this denies the idea of once save always saved? If, once a man comes to God through Christ, is saved, then he is always saved, what need is there for him to continue to work out his own salvation. See how it denies that idea of grace only saves? If God s grace is all that is required, what is there for man to work out. Verse 12 is addressed to the beloved, who have always obeyed ; that excludes nonbelievers and puts the onus of this working out of salvation squarely upon Christians. 3

4 2) Obedience is our work So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed Paul points out clearly that just as they have obeyed, they are to work out their salvation. Again, the scriptures are obvious when they are allowed to be, faithful obedience is the means by which Christians are to work out there salvation. I suppose the next step in this discussion is, How does this text harmonize with the many statements that Christ has done all for us, and that we have nothing to do, and can do nothing? There is nothing we can do to consecrate out salvation, but there is much we can do to lose it. It might help to understand that the term salvation is used in the scriptures in various ways. It sometimes means the whole of the process, from the beginning to the end, by which we are delivered from sin in all its aspects, and are set safe and stable at the right hand of God, God s plan of Salvation, if you will. It sometimes refers to one or the other of three different parts of that process; 1) Either deliverance from the guilt, punishment, condemnation of sin 2) The gradual process of deliverance from its power in our own hearts 3) The completion of that process by the final and perfect deliverance from sin and sorrow, from death and the body, from earth and all its weariness and troubles, which is achieved when we are landed on the other side of the river. Salvation, in one aspect, is an event of the past for the Christian, occurring at baptism when past sins are forgiven. In another, it is a thing present, the ongoing repentance and asking of God for forgiveness through Christ of the things we do daily that we shouldn t. And it is a something future, to be looked forward to when Christ comes to take His disciples home. But all these are but phases of the one salvation. All are elements of the one deliverance, the one mighty and perfect act which includes them all. This brings us to our next point of discussion 15 2) God works all in us Do you see the implication in verse for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. If God works in us, does He work outside of us? To believe that He does, means that you must believe that He is still working miracles in both man and the world today. That flies in the face of 1 Cor. 13 where God tells us through Paul that the miracles and the workings of the Holy Spirit would cease when the word, that which is perfect, comes. The real point is that if God s work is to be done, then brethren, we must do it. It is our faithful obedience that does God s work. It is the love of God and His truth working in our lives that accomplishes His work. 4

5 Paul s command to the Christians in Philippi, Work out your own salvation for God works in you implies a power, a power that the Christian has in God through Christ. Sometimes it is hard to comprehend the power that God has placed in our hands. Friends, the power of your salvation rests I your own hands. That is not to say that there is anything man could do to pay the price for his sins. There is not. But that is not the discussion we are having. God has accomplished the salvation of man through Christ. He has presented the opportunity to all men to be saved. That said, it is now up to each man to work out that salvation for himself. It is the responsibility of the believer to grow in grace, it is the burden of each man to commit to the work of God in faithful obedience. That is Paul s statement work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. How we work out our salvation is by allowing God to work through us. 17 3) Salvation is found only in Christ, why are we to fear and tremble? Fear and trembling. But, perfect love casts out fear. What then does it mean, fear and trembling. These are the adjectives that are attached to our working out our salvation. They are the modifiers of our faithful obedience. In this context, the efforts of our obedience are at least in part, to be motivated by the recognition that if we don t strive to keep God s commandments, all of His commandments, faithfully, then there is a recompense that we will face. Rom 1: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. We started this discussion by looking at faith, belief, and that is how we will end it. Paul writes here that the wrath of God is revealed to all who disbelieve. That s the point of verse 19. They deny the innate understanding of God even though that understanding is within the very being of man. How are you working out your own salvation? With fear and trembling in faithful obedience? 5

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