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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.