Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Really?

TwoCarpenters“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. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13 KJV)

Hmm. Work out your own salvation. Do so many good things, they outweigh the bad? No, that wouldn’t be grace, would it. So what does that mean, exactly?

It means work throughout the term of your salvation, from the time you were born again until the time you arrive in heaven. Work. Don’t be lazy. Don’t camp on some mountain top waiting for the rapture. Be busy doing something.

Jesus said, Occupy until I come (see Luke 19). Not occupy a city square or occupy a lounge chair, but be occupied, working at something.

Let’s look closer at these verses:

    • work out – katergazomai – kata (down from, throughout, in) and ergazomai (labor, perform, do work). I like those ideas: down from, throughout and in – meaning from beginning to end and during the process, during the term of something. The term of what?
    • your own salvation – soteria – deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation; from root word sozo (provision of whatever is needed: rescue, health, deliverance)
    • with fear and trembling – phobos / tromos – distrusting your own ability to meet the requirements, yet doing your utmost to carry out the assignment. The apostle Paul said, “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” I Co. 2:3-5
    • Why? because it is God – theos – the deity
    • who works – energeo – empowers, energizes, operates (like operating a computer or a business, a freight train or a lawnmower)
    • in you – inside, with, by, among
    • to will – thelo – to purpose; desire, wish; to love; to be fond of doing; to take delight in, have pleasure in
    • and to do – energeo  – operate
    • his good pleasure – eudokia – good choice, delight, pleasure, satisfaction (i.e. whatever activity he chooses that brings him pleasure)

The Holy Spirit is the prime operator, we are his co-workers. No wonder the presence of his power – energeo – resulted in fear and trembling for Paul.

He saw and experienced multiplied miracles when he took the Holy Spirit where he wanted to go, and let him do what he wanted to do through himself, Paul!

“And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all.” I Cor. 12:6 (AMP) “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:17 “… Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27

You think those verses were only meant for a few “super-believers”?

Also see

Who lives forever?

Who lives forever? Those who do the will of God, according to I John 2:17. Hmmm. “Do.” Not guess at, hope at, try to find out, but do. But what is that, the will of God? Ephesians 2:10 says there is work prepared in advance for us to do. That’s God’s agenda, itinerary, his “to do” list for us.

If you’re hired to do a job, you don’t go out and do your own thing. If you’re hired to be a painter, you paint. If you’re hired to be a plumber, you plumb. If you’re hired to be a typist, you type.

Suppose we worked at secular jobs the way we sometimes work God’s work? “Today I’ll plumb. I know I was hired to be a painter but today I think I’ll plumb.” Or, “Today I’ll paint. I know I was hired to type, but today I think I’ll paint.” How long until you’re fired?

The first part of Eph. 2:10 says that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. When God needed a painter, he created one and gave him the job of painting. When God needed a plumber, he created one and gave him the job of plumbing. When he needed a typist… you get the point. He has quite a long list of jobs that need doing on this planet, and he created the workers to do those jobs.

Sometimes people say they are trying to “find themselves.” They mean they are trying to find out who/what they are and what they are supposed to be doing. We may make fun of them, but that’s not a bad idea, really.