Work out your OWN Salvation?

Is salvation All of God? 
Or are we supposed to work it out on our own?

“. . . work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling.”  Phil 2:12

  Lorraine Day, M.D

If Salvation is “all of God” then why does the Bible tells us we must “work out our own salvation”?  And how can we do that when we are lowly sinners and “All our righteousness is as filthy rages” (Isa 64:6) and “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom 3:10) 

The rest of the passage above gives us some basis for understanding 

“. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.”  Phil 2:12,1 

It is God who works in us both to give us the will and the ability to do His good pleasure.  God has given us the tools to do “His good pleasure” but we must form the correct habits. 

“God has dealt to every man a measure of faith.”  Rom 12: 

“With focused attention and great care, you have to ‘work out’ what God ‘works in you – not to work to accomplish or earn ‘your own salvation,’ but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord.  As you do this, you do not bring an opposing will up against God’s will – God’s will is your will.  Your natural choices will be in accordance with God’s will, and living this life will become as natural as breathing.”  O. Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, June  

How do we “work out” the salvation God has put in us?

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do . . .”  John 14:1 

Christians often use the name of Jesus as a mantra.  At the end of every prayer they say, “In Jesus name, Amen” or “We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.”

But asking in the name of Jesus requires much more than that.  In the Bible, names were given to describe the character of the individual.  Jesus means Savior.   The name John means, Jehovah is gracious.  The name Jacob means supplanter, one who wrongly or illegally seizes and holds the place of another, which is what Jacob did when he stole his brother, Esau’s, birthright.  But when Jacob finally repented of his sin, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, “prince of God,” to represent his change in character.

We must ask in the character of Jesus meaning that our character, nature and disposition must be like His, which it will only if Jesus is living in us.  When we exhibit the nature and character of Jesus, we will ask of Him only what is in His will.  God’s will has become our will when Jesus abides in us. 

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” John 14:23 

“The disciple who abides in Jesus is the will of God, and what appears to be his free choices are actually God’s foreordained decrees.  ‘Abide in Me’ – in intellectual matters, in money matters, in health matters, in everyone of the matters that make human life what it is.”  Ibid, June 7,14 

Knowing is not enough: we must “Do”!

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”  John 13:17 

“If any man wills to do His will, He shall know . . .”  John 7:17 

Spiritual confusion is always caused by not obeying all that you already know.  When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more.  But when God reveals something to you and you refuse to do it, or you hesitate to follow God’s will, or seek out human advice on what you should do, you will go backwards in your spiritual walk.

“Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. . . for this cause, God shall send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie.”  2 Thess 2:10,11 

It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more.  A friend once said to me when we were discussing Bible issues, “I’m a John 3:16 Christian.”  She explained that she believed that was all she needed to know to be saved.  But how wrong she was.  If you really love someone, as we should love the Lord, you want to know everything there is to know about that person.  We are told to, “Search the Scriptures. . .” (John 5:39) and to be like the Bereans who,    

“. . .received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, to see whether those things were so.”  Acts 17:10,11

“It is much better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice.” Ibid June 8

“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, , ,” (1 Samuel 15:22) 
Asking in Desperation 

There is nothing more difficult than asking for help – real help – out of absolute desperation.  We continually ask God to help us while refusing to let Him.  We repeatedly try to fix the problem in our own way – man’s way – rather than giving the problem completely over to God, and listening to His directions. 

“Everyone who asks receives. . .” Luke 11:10

But you must ask out of the depths of your total insufficiency, poverty, hopelessness and pain.  To be able to receive means that you have come to God as a little child, trusting God completely.  But you will never receive if you ask with a certain result in mind, because you are asking out of your lust.  God knows what is best for you, and you don’t.

“You ask and you do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your lusts.”            James 4:3

“If you ask for things from life instead of from God, ‘you ask amiss’” that is, you ask out of your desire for self-fulfillment.  The more you fulfill yourself the less you will seek God.  ‘seek, and you will find. . .’  Have you ever sought God with your whole heart, or have you simply given Him a feeble cry after some emotionally painful experience?” Ibid June 10 

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hears, ye double-minded.  Lament and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”  James 4:8 

“Come to Me.” 

“The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words – ‘Come to Me.’  Our Lord’s words are not, ‘Do this, or don’t do that,’ but – ‘Come to Me.’  But most people would rather do anything than this one simple childlike thing – ‘Come to Me.’  Personal contact with Jesus changes everything.  The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him. 

‘. . . and I will give you rest’ – that is, ‘I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.’ Ibid June 11 

God’s “rest” does not involve holding your hand and singing you to sleep.  Instead, He will fill you with courage and strength by giving you the life and power of the Son of God.

You cannot bring anything to God except your poverty.  Everything you have – your possessions, your talents, your skills, your disposition – came from Him.  All you can give Him is your right to yourself – total surrender to Jesus Christ.  “A saint realizes that it is God who engineers his circumstances; consequently there are no complaints, only unrestrained surrender to Jesus.” Ibid. June 13 

Paul said, “Be content where you are.” 

“I have learned to be content where I am.  I know how to live humbly and how to live in prosperity; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strentheneth me. Phil 4:12,13

Jesus never chose His own circumstances, but was meek, submitting to His Father’s plans and directions for Him.  God will lead us into circumstances that we would rather avoid, but we are not born with character; it must be developed.  Nor are we born with habits – we must form godly habits on the basis of the new life God has placed within us.  We love to live in the limelight of doing big things for Christ, yet, “Jesus. . . took a towel and. . . began to wash the disciples’ feet. . .” (John 13:3-5)  It is in the drudgery of life that we build genuine character.

© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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