I am writing this week’s column in response to a reader’s question I received from a recent video I posted on Facebook regarding sin and salvation. The viewer asked me to clarify what I meant when I said that we are saved, but our efforts don’t stop there – we need to continue to work out our salvation.
This is an excellent topic for clarification. I appreciate the viewer reaching out. I hope all readers know that I welcome topic suggestions and questions.
Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
I would like to focus on two things packed within these verses: salvation and working out your salvation. Being saved and working out our salvation look differently in our lives. Once we are saved, the promise of eternity is set. Nothing can snatch us from Jesus’ hand.
Jesus said, “‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never parish; no one will snatch them out of my hand’” (John 10:28). This wonderful news gives us great joy! However, being saved is not the finish line; rather salvation is more like a starting line in our daily relationship with Jesus. Once we are truly saved, we cannot help but desire to follow His will and ways: this is a natural byproduct of salvation.
Let’s say you have parents who love you; you would naturally desire to respect and love them in return. If you choose to do otherwise, it does not change the fact that they are still your parents. However, it does change the closeness of your relationship with them. Thus, our efforts do not determine if we are saved once we accept salvation by the grace of Christ, but our efforts do reflect the closeness of our relationship with Christ.
Salvation secures our eternity. Working out our salvation expresses our obedience and faithfulness to Christ in our daily walk. Think of it this way: You have accepted the gift of a new shirt from your significant other. This shirt is yours — no one can say otherwise nor can they take it from you. How well you tend to the gift is up to you (free will). You can keep it clean, working out/ironing the wrinkles, and the shirt will continue to look amazing on you (your life). Or, you can choose to wad the shirt up in a corner in your closet and forget about it.
Same is what is meant by working out your salvation. You have received the gift of true life, and it cannot be taken from you (your salvation is set). Now, how you choose to express this gift through your obedience and thankfulness to Christ is up to you. This is a daily practice – a daily choice. And as Believers, we often need encouragement from scripture, prayer, and other Believers to keep us focused on Christ’s grace and presence more than our desire to be in control.
Psalm 51:12 says, “Return to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Yes, there are times as Believers when we are just like Paul when he admits his inward struggle: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). As saved followers of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us; however, we still have our flesh desires to be self-driven also inside us. This is a continued struggle here on earth. Galatians 6:8 says, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
We have an awesome opportunity to sow the seeds of the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). This is a daily choice of working out our priorities, our obedience, and our thinking.
May our prayer be to “create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” as we continue to follow Christ (Psalm 51:10). And when the time comes, may we be able to say as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
SGLY, dear readers.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. You can find her newly released books, “H.E.R.O. Faith” and “Bad Disciples” on Amazon. To submit feedback on SGLY, please contact news@amtrib. com.