For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 35
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, 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.” Philippians 2:12-13
Have you ever been confused by the expression, “work out your salvation”? Doesn’t the Bible teach that we are saved by faith and not by our works or effort? Perhaps the clearest passage on this subject is Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, “it is by faith that we are saved, not by works so that no man can boast.”
Where does faith come from? Does faith begin with us, or with God? Keep reading… “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5
Who made us alive? God! We were dead, by His grace we are made alive. This is called regeneration.
Let’s talk about the word “regeneration” for a minute. For fans of comics or superhero movies, you may remember that the character Wolverine possesses a supernatural ability to regenerate cells that repair any wounds he may experience. Cells that were dead, spontaneously replaced by cells which are alive. Our regeneration is a spiritual process which allows the spiritually dead (each of us) to spontaneously come to life! Theologian Dr. Edward Gross defines regeneration as follows…
First, God awakens your heart to the Gospel and then you put your faith in Christ to save you. At that moment, you enter into a saving relationship with Him and eternal life with God begins. Jesus said that He came to give us abundant life. (see John 10:10). At salvation, Christ takes our death, and gives us His life. This is called justification by faith. If you are a Christian, you have this abundant, eternal Christ-life within you and you’ve got to let it work itself out into every area of your daily life. Like a fountain of life, our salvation will bring restoration and fruit into every area of our lives as it works its way into the dry cracks and crevasses of our daily walk.
So why does Paul tell us we should do this with a spirit of “fear and trembling?” Here are two reasons-
1. Our awe and reverence for what our salvation cost Jesus. Have you ever been so stunned, in such awe of the magnitude of a gift or personal sacrifice that you were left physically shaken? When we consider the epic lengths that Jesus went to on the cross to secure our salvation, we should be irrevocably moved.
2. The consequences of abusing God’s grace. Though we are saved by grace, there are significant consequences for believers who abuse God’s grace, including hurting themself and others. While the final verdict will be “not guilty” in Christ, we will still be judged before God by what we do in this life.
“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 What God has worked in, we must work out. This is an Inside-Out Salvation.