ON WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13)
Let us begin by discussing the work of God (after all, that is where salvation begins!). God is the source of both our good desires and behaviors. This fact removes any sense of merit or room for pride in people. God provides the power, so God gets all the glory!
Clearly, however, we are to work as well. We need to pray, fast, search the Scriptures, partake in the Lord’s Supper, Fellowship together with God’s family, serve the needy, deny ourselves, etc. In other words, we need to willingly embrace every means of drawing near to God.
But there is a tension between these two points that some call a contradiction. Does God do the work of salvation or do we? Let’s clarify…
God’s work enables us to work. Without God working first, it is impossible for us to do anything good. And God has indeed worked in the life of every human being (through, at least, prevenient grace). We, therefore, have no excuse but to follow-up on His work with our own.
But even this subsequent work, which we must do, is powered by God. We do it by the Spirit. The Scriptures clearly teach that God begins the process of salvation independently, but refuses to finish in like manner.