I’m sure you’ve heard the debate once or twice from some hyped up Christian on the “work out your own salvation” passage in Philippians 2. Well, here’s the passage again – but with no debate – just simple application for your life today.
Philippians 2:12-16 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
I hope it does not surprise you that “working out” ones salvation is not at all about getting or staying saved. Just look at the context. But it is about working, and working hard till the end of the race.
In the context of this passage it’s about living with both eyes reverently fixed on Christ. It’s not about being afraid of God, but coming to understand His holiness and the catastrophe of living outside of His good will. It’s about understanding that His wrath and anger against sin is very real and that there is consequence to sin. “Working out” ones salvation is for the Christian who lives in light of the cross of Christ and lets it motivate them unto obedience.
It’s about walking in the righteousness which was imputed to you through faith and without merit. Our great privilege is to live as lights for Him in this crooked world. Our aim is to influence the world with such light and truth that some of the crookedness is straightened.
It’s about holding fast to the Word of life and coming to the end of the race with no regret of running in vain.
Paul instructed the Philippians with an understanding, himself, that their obedience would reflect on his work too. The minister of Jesus Christ must not shy away from telling those he leads the importance of working out their salvation with fear and trembling. If they don’t, if they live flippantly and aimlessly in their walk of faith, it they are always grumbling and complaining, if they care very little for the word of life, it reflects on the minister who instructed them. Paul wanted to come to the end of his life proud of having lived and ministered effectively in this world. Here’s what it says.
“…so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
Let us also desire such things.
To “work out” your salvation today is to prove that Christ has already worked a work of marvelous grace within you; one that cannot be revoked or taken away. The Christian has hope in his or her work today because it is God who does the work to save, sanctify and complete us at the end. And even though it is God’s good pleasure to do it all, the Scripture is very clear, that in this way, working out is a must!