Working Out Our Salvation
Nothing can separate us from the love of God made available to us through His Son, yet we can be misled by false doctrines, false christs and the devil’s lies, against which we need to guard.

Working Out Our Salvation

         Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian Church first mentioned about the unbelievers and their losing out of the kingdom of God. Then he reminds the believers about their similar state in the past and their justification by the blood of Lord Jesus and acts of the Holy Spirit. In an entirely different manner he then urged the Philippians’ Church to ‘work out their salvation with fear and trembling’. Does this mean that a believer has to do something more than believing in Lord Jesus as a Savior and is salvation dependant on our deeds instead of God’s grace?

          What does salvation really mean? – After assuring us of various blessings, in the last verse of the psalm God promises to bless us with a long life and to ‘show us His salvation’ (Psalm 91:16). Is it about long life or fullness of our life and giving meaning to our life? What is this salvation? Is this a prophecy about salvation of our souls through the Messiah’s work on the cross or something more? Or is it about salvation or deliverance from the penalty of our sins or about deliverance from the troubles and difficulties mentioned in Psalm 91?

         Hebrew word translated as salvation is ‘yeshua’ which is also the Hebrew name of our Lord Jesus. The word ‘Yeshua’ also means ‘deliverance, help, security, prosperity and victory’. It is thus a prophesy about the salvation through Lord Jesus from our sins as well as from the dangers to our soul. But then what about the words ‘showing His salvation’ instead of ‘giving us our salvation? If it was yet future then, how does it affect us today? Hebrew word ‘raah’ is translated as ‘show’ and it also means ‘to see, to perceive, to visualize or to glimpse’. This could then be both physical and spiritual salvation thus implying deliverance from present day troubles seen with physical eyes and our spiritual salvation visible only with spiritual eyes.

         To perceive is to visualize but in fact Hebrew word ‘chazah’ means vision which is both physical and spiritual. Scientists are working on finding other universes and explore other dimensions of the universe. Dream and vision interpretation is also considered as one way to glimpse into true reality. We are created in this physical world but are continuously being prepared to live forever in the spiritual world. Our spirit is eternal but not infinite for its beginning is at the time of our physical birth and only God is infinite. We see and know the physical world or present reality while the true reality is in the supernatural. A vision gives us a glimpse of the supernatural reality.

        Prophet Ezekiel was shown the evil deeds of Israelites of worshipping demons in the Temple in Jerusalem and then the Holy Spirit reveals to him the future Temple of God (Ezekiel chapter 8 and 40 onwards). Book of Revelation is one such glimpse given to Apostle John about the Day of Judgment and the events preceding that. The closer is our relationship with God; the clearer becomes the supernatural for us. I need salvation from the areas of my finances, health, relationships and many other things but when I look at the final salvation I realize that I really need that the most. The answer to the question of who will be shown this salvation is, ‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High’ (Psalm 91:1). The Holy Spirit will reveal the ‘secret place’ and lead such a person there and show him God’s salvation which is His Son or The Tree of Life from which we were separated in the Garden of Eden.

         Salvation would thus be reuniting with God and this can only happen once the mess of our sins is cleansed.  Apostle Paul’s message to the church in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1 is firstly about separation from the impurities or evil of this world and this is about spiritual separation. The second aspect is about our internal cleansing by penetrating our inner man, the spirit and soul and this is done by the Word of God. God’s Word is the words of life and light of the world that is constantly conducting the piercing and separating action in our thoughts, words and deeds (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 3:16). This separation is of our sinful human characteristics thus changing and gradually transforming us daily. In this first comes the cleansing through repentance and forgiveness and then purification or refining through obedience to God’s Word.

        Salvation is thus reaching and staying under the ‘secret place of the Most High’ and God takes us there through His choosing and we cooperate with His Spirit to remain there. What He reveals to us we receive and hold on to it as ‘the most precious pearl’.

         Is there need to work for our salvation? – The command is about working out and not working for our salvation and this is about completion of our salvation and about sanctification which is continuous (Philippians 2:12-16). The golden chain of salvation is about predestination on to our calling as led by the Holy Spirit on to the Savior Lord for justification through washing by His shed blood on the cross. To this chain one more process is added, of sanctification which is a continuous process resulting finally in glorification (Romans 8:30). Lord Jesus’ prayerful declaration to God the Father, ‘The glory that You gave Me, I have given to them’ reveals that this God given glory is through the Holy Spirit who works to bring about completion of the Golden chain (John 17:22). The prophecy about the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ‘who shall stand when He comes? He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver’ is about sanctification. This refining process cleanses away the impurities of sins that stick to us but we purify our inner man from the waste of evil thoughts and desires under His guidance.

       The sanctification process is further carried out by the Word for ‘The Word of God is living and powerful, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit. And a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart’ (Hebrew 4:12).  He not only discerns but corrects also, for what use would be discernment otherwise. Since there are forces of darkness bent upon leading us astray from the straight path, God helps us in the fight by not only guiding us through the Holy Spirit who ‘teaches us all things but also by reminding us about God’s Word’ and revealing the mysteries thereof. Weapons of God are given to us for battle against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness. These weapons are protective our head or thoughts; our heart or desires and the belt or truth to ensure proper truthful relationships. The weapon of offense is the sword of the Spirit that is Word of God and there is continuous sanctification while we are engaged in this spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12-18).  

        If we do not obey the Word of God or neglect by not accepting it fully the purification process will be missing and the filth will stay in us, affecting our relationships and our works. Separation of soul from the spirit by the Word of God continuously and gradually is to separate and remove what is sinful in our desires. Church leaders responsibility to teach to distinguish between good and evil, holy and unholy is clearly defined in the Scripture (Leviticus 10:10). The extent of this separation of evil from us shows how far we have walked on this narrow path to salvation. Apostle Paul did not try to frighten us as some do today in the church, for his teaching has always been about exhorting us to remain focused on the goal. Greek word ‘kayergazomai’ means work out or bring to decisive finality and this is through continuously obeying God’s Word.

        Apostle Paul’s command starts with ‘Now then or Therefore’ meaning I have explained to you what God has done for you and now you go ahead and  receive it (Philippians 2:12). In the same Epistle he gives his personal example ‘I press on toward the goal by forgetting the past (sins) but press on towards what is ahead, straining and pressing on to be Christ like (Philippians 3:12-16). These works originate from the point of salvation and are about obedience to do God’s will ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.

         Why work in ‘fear and trembling?  – Fear is actually about reverence or respect and Apostle Paul has used the same words elsewhere when Titus was encouraged by the Corinthians through their reception of him with ‘fear and trembling’ (2 Corinthians 7:15). This is reception with humility and respect for Titus was a minister of the Gospel and was to further strengthen their faith through sharing the Word of God with them. Apostle Paul reveals his attitude of ‘weakness and fear, and with much trembling’ when he went to Corinth for the first time (1 Corinthians 2:3). This fear was due to his being aware of the great and awesome nature of the kingdom work and this is the expected attitude for all Christians. It is a healthy fear of offending God through our disobedience or going astray and reverence and respect for His majesty and holiness.

         Trembling is about a weakness and of God’s higher purpose which then brings in us complete dependency on God. This dependence on Him is our spiritual service of obedience thereby renewing ourselves to do God’s will in our lives (Romans 12:1-2). The devil will always keep using all possible means to lead us astray through his lies and deceit.

         We work out our salvation by going to the very source that is God’s Word to renew our hearts and minds and not get distracted. The Savior Lord Jesus warned us about what we have to actually fear, ‘false christs and false prophets performing great signs and wonders to deceive even the elect’ (Matthew 24:11-12 & 24). This is greatly visible today in the Body of Christ and many false doctrines are being propagated. Apostle Paul also warned the elders of the church in Ephesus that ‘savage wolves will come in among you, after my departure, not sparing the flock. Therefore, watch’ (Acts 20:29-30). These false prophets and teachers bring in ‘destructive heresies’ (2 Peter 2:1) believers are warned to be careful and to discern the spirits (1 John 4:1).

         Scripture forewarns us about the devil’s tricks and use of beast of the sea and beast of the earth during the end times. People will see the ‘dragon being worshipped in fear’; there will be ‘blasphemy against God, His tabernacle and against those residing in heaven’; the beast will give authority to the idol to make war and overcome the saints and over every tribe, tongue and nation’ and then thus anointed ‘he performed great signs and wonders and display of great power’ (Revelation 13:4-8 &13-14). Working out our salvation is about being careful in what we hear, see and believe, and also as much about what we speak and do and what we follow. But we are assured of God’s hand of grace to help and strengthen us in our weaknesses.

          The high point of this working out of our salvation is to ‘Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling’ (Psalm 2:11). We must remember that the salvation is ours through faith in the Son of God and nothing can separate us from God’s love except we ourselves, by falling prey to the lies of the devil and going away from God. This will be like telling the Lord, I don’t need You, I can manage on my own and that is what I have to fear and tremble about.

             Through faith in Lord Jesus we are assured of becoming part of the heavenly family and eternal presence in heaven. But in this world we are surrounded by evil on all sides and the devil uses all lies and tricks to distort the truth of the Scripture to mislead us. While we remain steadfast in our faith, we also have to guard against the threat from Satan and his forces. Working out our salvation would then lead us to others to lead them from darkness into light while remaining true to our faith.

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