March 23, 2018
All DayCategory: Adult Education
Working Out Our Salvation
Therefore, my beloved…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Paul is writing to the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi. In chapter one he admonishes them to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ, standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel.
What is the “therefore” there for? The therefore here is a conclusion of something written before, so let’s go back to verses 2:1-11. Paul admonishes us here to have the same mindset as Jesus. In verses 6-8 we see Jesus’ mindset: Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus not only paid the price for our sins that we deserved to pay ourselves (1 Peter 3:18), but look at the way he did it! There has never been anyone as humble, obedient and loving as Jesus.
That is why verse 12 starts with therefore … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. It is an obedience which follows when our hearts are melted by what Jesus has done for us.
What does it mean to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling? Doesn’t Ephesians 2:8-9 say: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast? At first glance this seems to contradict work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. But notice it doesn’t say that we should work for our salvation, but work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Also, this letter is written to the believers who are already saved. (John 3:16-17) Now they are admonished to work out this salvation with fear and trembling, i.e. take it seriously!
What is it that they/we should work out? Verses 2-4 say: Being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus! Although we might want to do this, we know that on our own we cannot. But Paul continues to let us know in verse 13, that it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Jesus says in John 15:5 “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus will work through us if we remain in him. What a relief!
Verse 14 adds: Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent. Last but not least it says holding fast to the word of life. Hold firmly to God’s Word, meditate on it day and night and you will be like a tree planted by streams of waters which will give fruit in its time. (Psalm 1:2-3)
Prayer: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:16-18) Amen.