Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 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 do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)
Working Out Salvation
There is nothing more vital to a man’s life than to know that he will live after death. Viewing life only from the carnal examination of three score and ten years with nothing to enjoy after life is a horrible way to exist. Hope is gone and nothing to live for when man is destitute of a future. Salvation is the joy of knowing that life is not ended in death but rather life begins at the grave and continues without end. The concept of eternity is difficult to grasp but it can be acquired through the knowledge of God’s word and the promises that never fail from the hand of the Lord. Assurance of eternal life is given through the life of Jesus Christ who emptied Himself of eternity to be found in appearance as a man dying on the cross to offer all men an avenue of salvation from the condemnation of sin. No greater gift has been given than the love of God sending His only begotten Son to die for the sins of all men. Salvation is found in the will of the Lord and the hope of eternal life. It is God’s good pleasure to offer man a dwelling place in the eternal home of the Creator. God has done all He can do to save man. It is dependent on man to choose whether he desires to be saved or not. Salvation was planned, carried out and promised to all those who would accept the grace of God. None of salvation is forced on any man. Paul explains that salvation can only be accomplished by the will of man to submit his life to the will of God.
Salvation is something that must be done by man with a spirit of fear and trembling to accept the love of God as found in Christ. The exhortation to work out a person’s salvation shows the individual responsibility to exercise a free will of obedience or disobedience. There is nothing more that God can do that He has not already done. It is like a man dying from a terrible disease that has been given the life giving medicine to cure him and give him life. The vial of life sits on a table next to his bed. Every molecule of salvation is contained within the remedy prepared to save the man’s life but if the man never partakes of the medicine and dies it is not because salvation was not offered. To live the man must partake of the medicine. In a spiritual parable the life giving blood of Jesus Christ has been given to all men to accept and live but so many refuse to do the will of the Father. Jesus died on the cross so that all men could live but without coming to the cross no one can live. Everyone must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. Personal accountability is necessary for the grace of God to effect its change in the heart. Salvation does not come in the unmerited favor of irresistible grace. A choice must be made. Without choosing the man will die lost and without hope. Salvation is in Jesus Christ and comes from a heart that is obedient to the will of Jesus Christ.
Many in the religious world believe there is very little required to be saved. Often people are heard to say how much they love God and yet they have no knowledge of His will and very seldom follow the pattern of worship of the New Testament church, teach the plan of salvation as found in the word of God and live in such a way to glorify the teachings of the Lord. Salvation does not need to be worked out. God saved them and they continue to live carnal lives filled with the pleasures of the world. Working out a person’s salvation with fear and trembling acknowledges the importance of keeping the commandments of the Lord. The good pleasure of the Lord must be evident in the life of the child of God. Paul exhorts the people of God to work out their salvation and to fulfill the plan of the Lord. This requires knowledge, diligence, fortitude and a resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Working out salvation with fear and trembling is a daily awareness of God’s grace and mercy as the individual exhibits the will of God in their life. James would later write in his epistle that salvation is dependent upon faith and works confirming what Paul wrote of the need to work out ones salvation with fear and trembling. The grace of God and faith and works go hand in hand to show every man the promise of salvation. Everything needed to save man has been done through God’s grace. Man must respond to that grace. He must work out his salvation.