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A Detailed Look at the "Work Out Your Own Salvation" Scripture

work out your own salvation scripture

When we study the scriptures, Jesus did many miracles, such as raising the dead,

healing the sick and cleansing the lepers.

But I’ve heard it said that one of the greatest miracles ever is the salvation of an individual.

I believe there might be some truth to this because even though you may get a healing, eventually your day will come when you pass from this life into the next.

Salvation is greater because it’s something that we receive and can grow into day by day and on into eternity.

Salvation is something that is so multi-faced that it would take many articles to describe its benefits in our lives.

Before we addressed the topic, let’s first establish some foundation. Where does salvation come from and how is it obtained?

Salvation 101

Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Paul establishes very clearly that salvation is not earned or merited by any good work, but is a gift from God that is received by faith.

This truth is powerful, yet still debated. It’s just like the enemy to cause confusion among God’s people on how we access relationship with our heavenly father.

Some strive through good works such as prayer, Bible, reading, fasting, and other Christian disciplines to determine whether they will enter heaven's eternity.

But Paul seems to have a different take. It’s only by the grace of God received by faith!

The apostle Paul says that a different way in Colossians:

Colossians 2:6

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.

Just the way you received God by faith you should live the same way.

Our life as a Christian is one of faith. The scriptures also say without faith it’s impossible to please God.

Placing our faith in the finished work of Christ is what God is looking at.

Our faith can never be in our own merit and performance.

As I’ve stated before, this is a powerful and wonderful truth, but there are some who

struggle when looking at other verses in the Bible because it seems to say the opposite.

I usually hear statements such as: “I understand…. But…. What about this verse?”

Here is a tip – once you have established a biblical truth and then you run into a scripture that seems to contradict that establish truth, you must study deeper because it should fit within the context of what has already been said.

So, how do we understand the "work out your own salvation" scripture in Philippians 2?

A Closer Look at the Work Out Your Own Salvation Scripture

Philippians 2:12

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,

On the surface, it seems that Paul has a change of mind and is wanting people to work for their salvation!

We know from other passages this cannot be the case because Paul has already established that we are saved by grace through faith apart from any good works.

First, the scripture does not say to "work for your salvation," but instead to "work out your salvation."

I believe this small detail changes how this verse is to be understood.

Also, let’s consider the next verse, which will help bring context.

Philippians 2:13

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Notice again that it says God is working in you giving you the desire according to his

good pleasures.

Now let’s look at them together:

Philippians 2:12–13

12 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, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Paul is encouraging the believers to work out the salvation God was already working in them.

In other words, this passage is about good works flowing from God working in us. We are working out (for others to see) the salvation that is already within us.

The Coexistence of Grace and Works

Salvation by grace through faith and good works are not opposites but are jointly connected.

This statement is important because there are some who want to put salvation by grace

through faith and good works as opposites that cannot coexist at the same time.

The truth is, if someone is truly saved by the grace of God, good works will flow from it.

The scripture back in Ephesians 2 goes on to marry good works with saving faith:

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In verse nine, he talks about being saved by grace through faith, and now he lets us

know that we are created in Jesus Christ to do good works.

These good works flow from the salvation that has already been given. We are saved to do good works!

People can never see the salvation in your heart, but they do see how you treat them

and respond to difficult situations.

When we show love, compassion, and kindness to those we meet, we are reflecting the light and salvation that dwells with us.

It is us being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

So, in Philippians, the writer is saying the same thing: Workout the salvation that God is working in and through you by loving people, doing good, and being compassionate.

There are many verses in the Bible that make this connection that would be too long for

me to list, but I want to encourage you to study yourself and ask yourself:

"How is my life reflecting to those around me?"

It’s time for us to work out our salvation for others to see what God is doing in us!




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