What does it mean to work out your salvation?
What it doesn’t mean is to gain your salvation!
Let’s take a closer look…
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; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.Philippians 2:12-13 [Emphasis Mine]
When Paul says… So then, my beloved, he’s talking to believers. Beloved is agapetos comes from agapao = to love and agape = love) refers to the saints at the church at Philippi who Paul loved dearly.
Go ahead and work it out!
Work out what God has already worked in you!
And what has God worked in you?
Look at Philippians 1, Paul writes…
For I am confident of this very thing, that He (God) who began a good work (Salvation) in you will perfect it (Sanctification) until the day of Christ Jesus.(Glorification)Philippians 1:6 [Emphasis Mine]
We are called to act out our salvation in a way that is worthy of the One true God who started it all. You see, just like our salvation is this sweet wonderful harmony between God’s sovereign enablement and our human responsibility, so is our sanctification based on God’s sovereign enablement.
Paul says we still need to work it out!
Work out is katergázomai (kat-er-gad’-zom-ahee) from katá = intensifies meaning of verb + ergazomai = labor, work or engage in an activity involving considerable effort. It means to work out fully and thoroughly, to accomplish or achieve an end, to finish something to its conclusion.
It’s in the present imperative which is a command calling for us to make it our lifelong work to obey this command, bringing our salvation to the goal of Christ likeness, conforming to the image of His Son. Romans 8:29.
“Work out what God has worked in when you were born again. Bring the whole purpose of your salvation to completion. Don’t stop short of seeing the fulfillment of your very existence.”Will Pounds
It doesn’t say we have work to do to gain our salvation because God had done all He could do, now its up to us.
Paul’s not saying be like the Quakers and let go and let God! Just let the Spirit take you away. No, No, No!
Paul is saying God is doing the work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Though He will do the work at our level of doing and strength, make no mistake about it, God is working in us.
Paul is not speaking of attaining salvation by human effort or goodness, but of living out the inner transformation that God has graciously granted.John MacArthur- Philippians pg 155
That right there should make us want to please Him all the more.
Paul says work out your salvation, not someone else, but yours! Growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus is your responsibility. Each Christian should make it their own business to work out their own salvation.
Lets not forget Paul adds fear and trembling! “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” When you remember the verses just before our text, you will understand why.
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the FatherPhilippians 2:10-11 [Emphasis Mine]
The apostle Paul just finished giving us a breathtaking image of Christ humility as a suffering Servant, but ends that one day every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The fear of the Lord is a great and necessary attitude to have as a believer.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;Psalm 111:10
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.
The Lord seeks such an attitude…
Are you willing to persevere, labor and strive towards the finish line, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Paul wrote in Colossians…For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:29.
Read His Word, Study His Word and then live His Word!
Let me close with this…
Paul to the believers at Thessalonica.
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 [Emphasis Mine]
so that the name of our Lord Jesus
will be glorified in you,
and you in Him!
…and that’s a beautiful thing!