Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Working out my salvation

The first interesting passage that I want to dive into is in chapter 2.  Starting at the second part of verse 12 and continuing into verse 13 we have Paul writing the following,

“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

The reason I want to start here is that there is so much packed into this one passage.  I see at least four significant teachings I need to digest.

1. I am told to work out my own salvation

2. I am to work it out with fear and trembling

3. I am to work it out because It is God who works in me, both to will and to work

4. God is working in me ultimately for his good pleasure.

Today I am only going to concentrate on the first teaching, that of my responsibility to work out my salvation.

First of all lets look at how other translations put it.

(ESV, NKJV, HCSB)  work out your own salvation

(NLT)  Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God

(NIV, The Voice Bible) continue to work out your salvation

(Expanded Bible)  Keep on working to complete [Continue working out] your salvation

From this comparison I see that working out my salvation takes actual effort on my part, it is not just a mental exercise.  Also it is not a one time event, but a continual process through the demonstration of our obedience to God

From the “Treasure of Scripture Knowledge”, I have found the following other verses to be helpful to my understanding of what it means to work out my salvation.

First up let’s look at the recommended verse from Philippians, since it would seem reasonable that passages from the same letter should perhaps be given more weight than other verses scattered throughout the bible.

Philippians 3:13b–14 (ESV)  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The words ‘straining forward’ and ‘press on toward’ really give the impression that Paul is using great effort in his pursuit of the call of God

Here are some other verses I found helpful, emphasis mine.

Luke 13:23–24 (ESV)  And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Galatians 6:9 (ESV)  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Hebrews 4:11 (ESV)  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Turning now to some study notes, here is what I have found useful.

Faithlife Study Bible:  work out Implies that obedience is intentional and purposeful. In this context, “working out your salvation” means assuming Christ’s mindset (see verses 6-11).

Believer’s Study Bible: Work out your own salvation” means to “work out,” not “work for.” A “works salvation” is not being taught. The idea is to progress to the finish or completion in spiritual growth and maturity. This process is what the Bible calls “sanctification.” It should be noted that v. 12 makes it clear we are to be active, not passive, in this process.

Sprit Filled Life Study Bible:  In view of the obedience of Christ and His lordship, the Philippians should show a like obedience. Paul does not teach that salvation is dependent on one’s continued works, but that salvation must express itself in progressive Christian living and upright character, not only individually, but through obedient participation in God’s corporate call to a local church.

King James Study Bible:  Work out your own salvation does not mean that you should work for salvation in order to obtain it. The Greek phrase “work out” denotes the expression, manifestation, or actualization of something one already possesses. The Philippians are to “work out” the salvation God has already wrought  in them (v. 13), carrying it to its logical conclusion. God has granted them salvation not just for their own profit, but for the good of others as well. If they work out and manifest the new life divinely worked in them, they will live lives worthy of the gospel (1:27), in harmony with each other (v. 2), seeking the progress of the gospel. They will also regard one another as more important than themselves (v. 3), be concerned with the needs of their fellows (v. 4), and make the appropriate sacrifices in obedience to God, as did Jesus. In doing all this they will work out or express the new life they have through Christ.

Finally, here is the Greek Dictionary entry for the word translated work. (strongs number 2716, ‘katergazomai’) –

to perform, accomplish, achieve
to work out i.e. to do that from which something results
of things: bring about, result in
to fashion i.e. render one fit for a thing


Unknown said...

Excellent post Andrew,thank you.

Unknown said...

Excellent post, thank you Andrew.