Working Out Our Salvation

Q. Greetings. Paul says in Phil 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

I would like to have your comments on these two verses in regards to salvation. Currently I am still continuing to study on this topic, your opinion on Salvation is very profound. Why was he admonishing believers to work out their salvation with fear and trembling?

A. Paul himself said that when we confess and believe we’re saved (Romans 10:9) and at that time we’re given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephes. 1:13-14), so in Phil. 2:12-13 he’s obviously talking about more. The passage begins with the word “therefore” which ties it to the previous one, where Paul admonished us to be as much like Jesus as possible. Jesus wasn’t forced to be obedient, He did it out of love. He was obedient even to the point of death in order to please God, so we should strive to be obedient as well, and for the same reason. It pleases God.

Remember, Paul was writing to believers, people who were already saved. Now he’s telling them, and us, that the work doesn’t stop there. We should strive to be more Christ like in our manner of living. Not to earn something, for we’ve already received it, but to allow God to work in us according to His purpose. It’s much like his advice to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 9:24-25 where he compared the believer’s life to that of an Olympic athlete, in training to win a crown.

In Phil. 2:14-15 he said we should strive to become in fact that which we already are in faith, blameless and pure. In this way we distinguish ourselves from the depraved world in which we live and shine like stars as we hold out the word of life.

By doing this we become a beacon for the lost, drawing them to God, and fulfilling His purpose in our lives.

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