Every January the airwaves explode with commercials hawking the benefits of joining a workout facility or signing up for a new weight loss program. This is as predictable as the credit card bills that arrive shortly after the lights are taken town, and the tree is put away.
Squeezed in between Christmas cookies, Super Bowl parties and Valentine's Day chocolates these commercials make their pitch to people desperate for the easy way to the "New You in The New Year." Signing a contract will not shed any pounds, and having food delivered to the door rarely ends well. Still you can set your clock by the timing of guilting people into making New Year's resolutions that don't require any real effort on their part. Signing up is not the same thing as working out and eating right. Big difference.
Comparing the quotes "Work out your salvation" with "Saved by grace" doesn't look like they could be said by the same person. Paul saw no conflict in them. Simply stated, the first one appears to require some sweat equity, and the second seems tailor made for contemporary Christian couch potatoes.
Paul attacked the enemy on two fronts with a double-edged weapon of warfare. He understood it to be the sword of The Spirit which is The Word of God.
On one front Paul exposed and defeated the strategy of the enemy to appeal to the pride of man, cheering people on to greater and greater efforts to win the approval of God. Paul reminded the early church that salvation was not a result of the works of man, but it was a free gift from God.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;" Ephesians 2:8
On the opposite side of the battlefield, Paul warned Christians of the danger of letting the enemy sing them to sleep with a lullaby. Christianity is not a mindless,thoughtless, effortless pursuit. It may be freely received, but it must be diligently protected and developed.
Note to self: When you asked Jesus into your heart, your brains didn't fall out, and your work ethic wasn't removed.
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8
Two phrases seem to be blowing in different directions, but they are spoken with the same breath. "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (v. 12b)
appears to be at odds with the following statement.
"For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (v. 13) These two Scriptures are not at odds with one another. They are complimentary to each other.
This cannot be over-stated. Any thought, desire, or sense of direction towards the purpose of God is a result of The work of The Spirit of Christ in the life of the believer. This is a genuine sign of the birthmark or the seal of The Spirit on the child of God.
Note to self: Working out of you, what God puts in you is the process of believing prayer being applied to intimidating circumstances and irritating people. Trying to talk your way through a crisis, or argue your way out of a conflict develops the muscle tissue of your flesh. Praying through a crisis and with others, not at them, will reveal the fruit of The Spirit.
Working out your salvation is not an effort to make oneself pleasing to God. It is the energy expended to put oneself in the position to experience the pleasure of God.
On hundred years ago, Billy Sunday's preaching was criticized for rubbing the fur of the cat the wrong way. Sunday replied, "Let the cat turn around." When there is no pleasure in hearing a fresh word from God, or any joy in being in His Presence there is a need for a turn around.
There is a powerful scene in the movie, "Chariots of Fire." It depicts a conversation between Missionary Eric Liddell and his sister. She was afraid his time invested in running was a danger to his calling. Liddell protested. "God made me fast, and when I run I feel His pleasure." Liddel found a way to work out his salvation. This work out is not the same for all. but it is necessary for all.
Praying puts a person in the position to lower their head, and to lean into the yoke relationship with Jesus Christ. Praying in the name of Jesus works out salvation, empowering a child of God to experience The Father's way, His will and His good pleasure. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!