Christianity 201

September 17, 2012

Working Out Your Salvation With Fear and Trembling

Two days ago we looked at the operation of grace, so this may seem a little bit of a contradiction but we are now looking at our response to God in light of the grace we have received.  This is also from the book 101 Most Puzzling Bible Verses (Harvest House)

Keep on Keeping On

NIV Phil 2:12 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

When Paul told the Philippians to work out their salvation, he did not mean they were to work for it or acquire it through their own efforts. In fact, they were already secure in their belief and salvation. (Phil 1:1) No one, ourselves included, can work for salvation because it is a gift from God (Eph 2:8-9). Salvation involves deliverance from the penalty and eternal consequences of sin, but every Christian is responsible for his or her own spiritual development and struggles with the daily consequences of the sin nature. While the Holy Spirit actively works in our lives, success or failure is up to us (Rom. 8:9,14,16).

Paul command the Philippians to put into practice through the aid of the Holy Spirit the results of the salvation they received from God. God would enable them to do it, (Phil 2:13) but they needed to actively pursue the ramifications of having eternal life and the benefits of living Godly lives. Spiritual progress is a cooperative effort between the Christian and the Holy Spirit. It is an outworking of a person’s rebirth as a Christian.

Paul was certain that just as God worked in his life and through him, so too would God work in the Philippians’ lives (Phil 1:6; 4:9). Because of this they were to be joyful in daily life (as should be all Christians), but they were also to understand the enormous responsibility and obligation of serving Jesus Christ. They were (and we are) to serve with “fear and trembling.” Being joyful and being fearful might seem to be contradictions, but they are not.

Paul uses the phrase “fear and trembling” several times to indicate a positive emotional response to understanding God’s desires for those He loves (I Cor 2:3; II Cor 7:15; Eph. 6:5). It is an attitude of obedience and awe rather than freight. To experience God’s best in our lives, we must have complete trust in Him and in the unique plan he has for each of us. As we journey with God, we work out our salvation, fully realizing the magnitude of the gift He has given us. In much the same way that the gift of luxury automobile is fully understood  and appreciated only as the new owner drives it, so too is salvation more fully comprehended as a person daily lives according to God’s plan and God’s word. Fine automobiles are not meant to stay in the garage, and salvation is not meant to be dormant or static.

~ Tim Demy in 101 Most Puzzling Bible Verses, chapter 77

emphasis added


  1. I don’t deal with “the sin nature”. I spent 40 years fighting sin, as defined by the law. As a result, Jesus was unemployed, of no effect.I esteemed Him lightly. But since He recently revealed grace to me, I pay no mind to sin. I am dead to it. It has no jurisdiction in my life (Rom.6:14). Jesus, by grace, has perfected my conscience. Before that, I esteemed His blood to be no better than that of bulls or goats (Heb.10).
    Some would say, “Have balance”, grace with works. The problem is, works are always of self, related to the law. But grace by its very definition cannot be earned. Balance is mixture. As soon as you add works, you lose grace. We’re trying to put the new wine of grace into old wineskins of the law.
    So, how are we transformed? By beholding the glory of the Lord with unveiled face. As soon as we involve works, we put the veil back on (2 Cor.3:15-18). The problem is, works always will bring you back to the law. Paul said the law empowers sin (1Cor.15:56); the law arouses sin, giving it the opportunity to produce in us every manner of evil, including addictive behavior (Rom.7:5,8). Yes the law, written and engraved on stone tablets by the very finger of God, leads to death (2Cor.3:7). The only “work” I do now is labouring to remain in God’s rest, casting down “logismos”, human reasoning. I am Jesus’ workmanship. I rest, being pliable; He works. After all these years, I am finally able to receive His free, irrevocable gift or righteousness. I’m looking forward to the Holy Spirit producing a bumper crop of fruit, now that the soil has been “worked”.

    Comment by Greg — September 17, 2012 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

    • Great comment, Greg. you must be reading and listening to grace-based teachers like Joseph Prince. His first devotional is super.

      Comment by Lenny — May 23, 2014 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  2. Great work my dear Greg. we are what we are by faith in Christ Jesus. It is time for the world to accept and transform their mind and Heart to this great truth. The books written by Apostle Paul is highly Recommended for you. Greg and Lenny has said it all. Destiny to Reign . A book written by Joseph prince has all the breakdowns. Get hold of one Now . Thank you.

    Comment by Mabel — June 2, 2016 @ 8:18 am | Reply

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