Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

Are You Working Out Your Salvation?

Are you working out your salvation?

“Working out your salvation” is something totally different from working for your salvation.

You might ask, “What’s the difference between working out your salvation and working for your salvation?

A lot. The first is necessary for every believer. The second is a heresy–a teaching not according to the genuine Christian faith.

So let’s consider the difference…

Working out your salvation versus working for your salvation

 We can never work in order to receive salvation; that’s an offense to God’s grace.

God’s Word reveals that we can do nothing to earn His salvation by any good works that we have done.

Christ has done it all. On the cross, He said, “It is finished!” No one can add to Christ’s redemptive work for us. He paid the price for our salvation with His precious blood. All we can do now is receive it by faith.  In Romans 3:22 and 24, Paul said,

Even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ to all those who believe, for there is no distinction…Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Take a moment to pray,

“Lord Jesus, I thank you for dying for me. I confess that I am a sinner and can do nothing to earn your salvation. Thank you for taking away all my sins on the cross. I believe that You rose from the dead so that as the Spirit You can come into my spirit to be my life. Lord Jesus, I receive You right now. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed such a prayer you are eternally saved. You are a reborn to be a child of God!

We should daily work out the salvation that we have already received; this is to cooperate with God’s grace.

If you have received God’s salvation in Christ, you’ve received His divine life, a life that now needs to grow in you.

This means that you need to work out your salvation. That is, you need to cooperate so that the salvation you’ve already received can reach its goal.

In Philippians 2:12-13 the apostle Paul said,

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.

It’s important to see that  “working out your own salvation” is different from “working for your salvation.”  To try to work for your salvation is an offense to God because it implies that we think we can add something to Christ’s perfect redemption.

However, “working out your salvation” is different. It is based on the fact that we have already received God’s salvation.

Working out our salvation is our cooperation with God who is now operating within us.  It is our willing response to His operation. It is to obey His moving within us. It is in this way that God can bring us to the goal of the salvation we have already received.

In the Life-study of Philippians, Witness Lee explains what it means to work out our own salvation by saying:

To work out our own salvation is to carry it out, to bring it to the ultimate conclusion. We have received God’s salvation, which has as its climax to be exalted by God in glory as the Lord Jesus was (v. 9). We need to carry out this salvation, to bring it to its ultimate conclusion, by our constant and absolute obedience with fear and trembling. We have received this salvation by faith. Now we must carry it out by obedience…It is not that we by ourselves carry it out, but that God operates in us to do it. The only thing we need to do is to obey the inner operating of God. (Life-study of Philippians, p. 100)

To carry out the salvation we have received is to allow God to work Christ into every part of our being:

First, God regenerates our spirit, by imparting Christ into us from the moment we believe into Him and receive Him—John 1:12-13; 3:6.

Second, God progressively transforms our soul  by the Spirit into Christ’s image, as we cooperate with His inner operation throughout our Christian life—2 Cor. 3:18.

Finally, God will transfigure our body, conforming it to the body of Christ’s glory, making us the same as Christ in all three parts of our being—Phil. 3:21.

It is through such a process that we carry out our salvation, bringing it to its ultimate conclusion.

May we not only thank God that we have eternal salvation through faith in His Son, but also willingly cooperate with Him to work out our salvation, to bring it to it’s ultimate goal!

“Father, thank you for showing us that your salvation is perfect and eternal by faith in your Son. Thank you also for showing us that this salvation has a goal and that we can work out this salvation by our daily cooperation with Your operation in us. Father, grant us Your mercy and grace that we would daily give you the cooperation You are seeking so that You can gain Your good pleasure and carry out Your salvation in us!”

Finally, to cooperate with God’s operating in us, we need to learn to pray to fellowship with Him. We need to learn to open ourselves to Him so that He can freely work in us the willing and the working for His good pleasure. Then we will be strengthened to obey Him.

If you’ve been helped by something in this post, I hope you’ll confirm with a short comment. And if you’re looking for more help on prayer, take a moment to check out the posts on the Prayer Life page.

References and Further Reading:

This post was inspired by Life-study of Philippians, Message 12 by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry. You can read this message and the entire Life-study of the Bible for free at: ministrybooks.org.

Here is a hymn that will help you apply the points of this post: “Pray to Fellowship with Jesus” by Witness Lee. You can listen to the tune on hymnal.net and view the lyrics here.

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

6 Replies

  1. Fred Northrup

    Praise the Lord that for His good pleasure He is operating in us the willing and the working. I enjoy John 6:28&29. “What must we do that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe into Him whom He has sent.” Our work is to look away from everything to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2 We are justified, have the Life of God, and live properly by this Life…by faith! Romans 1:17 footnote 3 Our work is to believe. “And this is His commandment, that we believe…!” John 3:23a.

    1. Tom Smith

      Amen. As believers, our God is operating in us both the willing and working for His good pleasure. “Working out our salvation” as presented in this post is simply our response to to His operation in us. Our response of faith is to obey this inner-operating God, so that He can carry the salvation we have received (which is Christ Himself) and bring it to it’s ultimate goal. In this way Christ will spread from our spirit, saturate our soul and ultimately transfigure our Body. By such a daily saving we are able to live Christ and magnify Him.

      1. Juan Poolman

        Thank You Lord that by grace we have been saved. We give our full co-operation to Your working in us!

        1. Tom Smith

          Juan, thank you for your comment on the matter of “working out our own salvation.” It is good to see that this doesn’t mean that we are “working to get saved.” We already possess eternal salvation through our faith in Jesus Christ. However, the salvation we have already received needs to be worked out in our daily life. It needs to become a daily moment by moment salvation that saves us from such things as murmurings and reasonings (Phil. 2:14). To work out such a salvation we need to cooperate with the inner operating God. As Phil. 2:13 says, “For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure. Verse 16 gives us a little window as to how we can do this. There it says, “Holding forth the word of life…” By daily enjoying the word of Christ, letting His word dwell in us richly by speaking to one another—teaching and admonishing one another—singing with grace in our hearts to God (Col. 3:16) we are supplied to cooperate with God, to obey His inner operating so that we work out the marvelous salvation we have already received.

  2. Thank-you for clarifying that point. It is so easy to misunderstand and end up thinking we have to work for our salvation.

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