Work Out Your Own Salvation
Phil. 2: 12 – 18
One of the problem verse for me when I was a new Christian was this verse. I know that salvation is God’s gift and works has nothing to do with it. But when I came across this verse, I got confused. Today, let’s talk on what this verse really mean.
I. Wherefore my beloved as ye have always obeyed.
A. The word “wherefore” here connects the succeeding verse with verses 8 – 11. This word acts like a junction wire which connects the Philippians to Christ. Because of what Christ is, and all that He has done, in humility and obedience, Christ died like a common criminal in the cross. In view of the fact that He was exalted by the Father and given a name above all name, we should wherefore (for this reason) be humble and obedient also.
B. “My beloved” is a language which shows how Paul loves the Philippian Church.
C. “As you have always obeyed” means that in the past they were obedient to Paul when he asked them to change. The Word of God teaches us that there is a twofold face of obedience:
1. Obedience when somebody is watching
2. Obedience when you are alone
“Not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence”. It’s easy to obey when people are watching, but when nobody is around, it’s a different story. As Christians, how do you obey the Lord? How do you obey the authorities in our daily lives? How do you obey your pastor or your parents?
How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word.
With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.” Our Daily Bread, January, 19
II. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling – the Greek word for “work out” means to finish or accomplish. Some important things about salvation:
A. Salvation is not by works (Rom. 3:21-24, Eph. 2:8-9)
B. We have to work it out or put it in practice, by our obedience to the word of God in our lives. It is the expression of one’s salvation in spiritual growth and development.
C. Though salvation is a gift received once and for all; it expresses itself in an on-going process in which the believer is actively involved (Mt. 24:13; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Heb. 3:14;
6:9-11; 2 Pet. 1:5-8)–the process of perseverance, spiritual growth and maturity.
D. Works cannot save us and it cannot retain our salvation but works are the visible evidence of salvation.
E. Salvation can be worked out only by those who are saved. You cannot ask the pastor or the missionary to do the praying, reading the Bible, and witnessing for you. The Lord does not allow any proxy. You must do it personally. How do you work out your salvation?
F. The fear and trembling here is not the fear of losing one’s salvation but the healthy fear of committing sin and offending God and a righteous awe and respect for Him (Prov. 1:7, 9:10). One day, the Lord Jesus Christ will put into judgment everything that we have done (2 Cor. 5:10).
III. For it is God who worketh in you. (v. 13).
A. We cannot do anything on our own (Jn. 15:5). Though we have the responsibility to work, the Lord actually produces the good works and spiritual fruits in the life of the believer (1 Cor. 12:6). This is done because He works through us by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8, 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19-20). In other words, we are partners with God
labouring together with Him.
B. To will and to do of his good pleasure. The Lord not only enables us “to do his will” but also energizes our will to do it. Though we are the one that does the work we can only do it by his power and grace (1 Cor. 15:10).
C. Good pleasure means one that satisfies Him (1 Thess. 1:11).
IV. Do all things without murmuring or disputing (v. 14).
A. To murmur is to complain. It is the favourite indoor past time of the nation Israel.
They love to murmur against their leadership (Num. 14:27, 1 Cor. 10:10). It is rejection of God’s providence, will, and circumstances for one’s life. Parents know how this means when they ask their children to do something and they whisper a little. The Word of God forbids murmuring yet lots of Christians still does complain.
B. Disputings means arguing. The Christian in working out his inward salvation is commanded never to complain or argue, but rather to accept the difficulties in life willingly, confident that the Lord is allowing them for good reason.
Illustration: Those Who Complain First
A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of oxen. The axles groaned and creaked terribly, when the oxen turning around thus addressed the wheels, “Hey there, why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we—not you—ought to cry out!” Those complain first in our churches who have the least to do. The gift of grumbling is largely dispensed among those who have no other talents, or who keep what they have wrapped up in a napkin.
Charles Spurgeon in The Quotable Spurgeon
V. That ye may be blameless and harmless…(v. 15)
A. Blameless is not sinless perfection, but a life that cannot be criticised because of sin.
B. Harmless means a life that is pure, or contaminated with sin, just like a wine that is not diluted. A believer must live a genuine life unmixed with sin.
C. Crooked and perverse nation. A description of the unbelieving world (see Acts 2:40; Eph. 2:1-3, Mt. 17:17). Shine like lights. The contrast, like light in darkness, that Christians are to be to the world around them ( Mt 5:14-16).
VI. Holding forth the word of life (v. 16)
A. Holding forth means to hold upon, retain,
B. The Word of life is the Word of God. God’s Word produces life; it is a life giving Word.
C. The day of Christ is the day when we will meet the Lord when He comes again. At the judgment seat of Christ there will be joy unspeakable.
VII. Self-sacrifice and Rejoicing (v. 17-18).
A. In our Christian walk we have to sacrifice our life, time, happiness, comfort, energy, sometimes things that are very dear to us for the sake of following Christ.
B. Such sacrifices are not without rewards when we meet the Lord. Everything that we have done in his name will all be rewarded and then we can rejoice. However, even
now in the midst of our present tribulations, we can still rejoice. (1 Pet. 4:12-13)
Illustration: Livingstone Thinks It No Sacrifice
“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can
never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?
“Away with such a word, such a view, and such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.” (David Livingstone Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.)
Good works cannot save us. Work out your own salvation, means putting it into practice or “living it out “by our humble obedience to the Word of God. It is an expression of our spiritual growth and development. If you are really saved, show it by your daily walk.
Why not start now?