Phillippians 2:12-13 says,
12.Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
What does the phrase mean that says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”?
I know some teach that this verse promotes a works salvation. In other words, we keep trying and trying, and maybe someday, when we all get to heaven, we’ll know whether or not we’re saved.
That’s just plain wrong.
This phrase must be taken in context. Paul was writing to those he knew were already believers. They were already saved. Yet, there must be growth in the walk with the Lord for any Christian–the Philippians then, or us today.
Don’t overlook verse 13. We can’t truly do good deeds and please the Lord without His enablement. It is He who works within us.
Here’s one way to look at this idea of working out your own salvation.
Suppose you inherited a million dollars. It’s yours, free and clear. No questions asked.
Now, what are you going to do with it? The first thing to do is sit down with a financial counselor or someone with the knowledge to help you use that million dollars. You want to use it so it’s not merely squandered on foolishness.
Maybe you need to pay off some bills and straighten out your own affairs. But after you’ve reasonably taken care of yourself, then what? That inheritance should benefit both you and others.
So, to draw the parallel to the Bible phrase in question, you have to work out what to do with that million dollars.
And so it is with our salvation. We have it. It’s guaranteed. Now, how do we make best use of it in our own lives. And how can we enrich the lives of others with it?