(12)  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  (13)  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Philippians 2:12-13

The first question that probably comes to mind after reading these verses is, “What does ‘work out your own salvation’ mean?”

Notice that Paul doesn’t say “work for your salvation”, but to “work out your salvation.”

The phrase means to live out or demonstrate the evidence of your salvation.  Remember that Paul had called the Philippians “saints”.  Since he was writing to people who were already saved, he was not talking about how to get saved.  He was talking about living out our salvation.

Remember, we must always interpret scripture with scripture.  Notice Ephesians 2:8-9.

(8)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  (9)  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

We cannot be saved by works.  We can only be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  This is the good news.  Only Jesus Christ can save a person.  Mike Frazier cannot save Mike Frazier.  Mike Frazier cannot save Jake Tovissi.  Only Jesus can save Mike Frazier or Jake Tovissi.

(5)  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5

Every religion promotes a man made, work based plan for salvation.  It is a merit system. What is the merit system?  This system says that you gain what you earn.

At school when you work hard and learn the material you get good grades.  At work when you work hard and earn the company money, you get a raise.  People bring this thought over to God.  They think if they live rightly enough then we will earn salvation.  They think they have to do something to get something in return.  Please know that you cannot save yourself.

Check out Romans 3:10-12.

(10)  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  (11)  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  (12)  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Notice the word “none” appears 4 times in these verses.  You and I are not going to be the exception to the rule!

Let us also put to rest the idea that salvation comes by Jesus Christ plus good works.  Some think that Jesus saves but that we must do our part to get salvation.  Paul puts this thought to rest in Romans 11:6.

(6)  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.  Romans 11:6

Grace is God’s unmerited favor on undeserving sinners.  Let’s be clear.  When it comes to salvation your part is to believe on Jesus Christ.

Remember we taught about how the Philippian church got started.  Remember how that Paul and Silas were put in prison, there was a great earthquake, and the jailer finding them still there asked Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved?”  Remember Paul’s answer?

(31)  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Act 16:31

The answer to this question has not changed.  We must believe!  We cannot work for it.  We can’t earn it.  We don’t deserve it, but when we believe God saves us!

So if it is not talking about getting saved, what is it talking about?

(12)  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  (13)  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Philippians 2:12-13

Notice the very first word in verse 12- “wherefore”.  This word always connects the previous verses to what has been said.   We learned in last week’s message from verses 9 that Jesus was highly exalted because of His obedience to die on the cross for us.

To help us understand this let us go back to verse 2:1-2.

(1)  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,  (2)  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Philippians 2:1-2

God wants unity.

(3)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  (4)  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

The only way to achieve unity is to look to the things of others.  It is not about what we can get, but what we can give. Church is not all about me or you.  It’s about glorifying God by investing in others.

Then in verses 5-8 we saw the ultimate example of the kind of attitude that will bring us unity.

(5)  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  (6)  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  (7)  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  (8)  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

Then we saw how that God rewarded Christ in verses 9-11.

(9)  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  (10)  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  (11)  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:9-11

You see, the essence of the Christian life is to live a life of obedience to God and His Word- just like Jesus did.

(6)  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.  1 John 2:6

Jesus lived His life in complete obedience to God the Father.  This is how we ought to live also.

One of the most beautiful things about following Christ is to know that God has a unique and personal plan for each of our lives.  Notice he says “work out your own salvation”.

Look again at Ephesians 2.  This time check out verse 10.

(10)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  You’re not saved by good works, but once you are saved God has some good works that he has created you to perform. Ephesians 2:10

Notice Titus 3:8.

(8)  This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

He wants us to accomplish His will and His plan for our lives.  With that truth in mind let us look again at our text.

(12)  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  (13)  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Philippians 2:12-13

Notice that it is our work in verse 12, and His work in verse 13.

Sanctification happens when we cooperate with God to perform what He wants to have happen in our lives.  It cannot happen with Him.  There is both human responsibility and Divine activity.  We cooperate with the indwelling Holy Spirit as He produces Christ likeness in us.

Notice that expression “with fear and trembling”.  This does not mean we live the Christian life with panic and anxiety.  It means that we are supposed to live our Christian life with reverence.  We ought to live in complete awe of who God is and what He has done for us.   God saved you.  He has forgiven us of all of our sins.  He has promised us a home in heaven.  He has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We do not want to let Him down.  We want to honor Him with our lives!

So let me encourage you with these words:  “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

If you do not know for sure how you can have your sins forgiven and go to heaven one day, please click this link, and/or contact us through the form below.