October 13, 2021 — How do I do this “Working Out” Thing?

“Stan,” I said one morning, “quite often you talk about working out the salvation that has been worked in by the finished work of Christ on the cross.”

“That’s right,” Stan replied. “It’s an important subject that I believe is at the heart of discipleship.  Do you have a question about it?”

“I do,” I said. “Where Paul wrote about that in the letter to the church in Philippi, he says to work out that salvation with fear and trembling. I wonder how I’m supposed to do that; is it all about my self-efforts or is something else involved?”

“I would say that it’s both you and something else,” Stan responded. “However, I don’t think the ‘you’ part is involved with your self-efforts. I think it’s the exact opposite.”

“Exact opposite,” I said. “In what way?”

“Rather than self-effort,” Stan said, “I think it’s all about denial of self-effort.”

“Like the first step of being a disciple?” I asked. “Denying self?”

“That’s what I see,” Stan replied, “getting myself out of God’s way so He can do what Paul wrote about in the immediately following verse.”

“Which is what?” I asked.

“So God can do His work,” Stan said. “Paul points out that it’s God who is at work in the person, doing His will and His work for His pleasure.”

“God’s will, God’s work, and God’s pleasure,” I said. “That’s kind of like God does, or at least wants to do, everything. He provided the way for life eternally with Him, He provides the eternal life of knowing Him and Jesus before then, and He works out the salvation that He worked in.  What’s left for the individual person to do?”

“Get out of His way!” Stan exclaimed. “Let God do what He wants to do. Be a disciple who is fully and continually surrendered in every way there is to surrender.”

“Is it really as simple as that?” I asked.

“As simple and as complicated as that,” Stan replied with a smile.


Bible verses to consider:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.

And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all you have done in providing the way to spend eternity in your presence when it’s time, along with the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening personal relationship before then. Thank you also for working in and through me to work out the salvation you have worked in through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. I confess that too often I do not get me out of your way so you can do all you want to do in and through me.  Please forgive that foolishness and please help me in following every step of your lead so you can and will do all you want. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious provision of life with Him in eternity that does not end? If no, why? What’s in the way? If you do have the assurance of salvation, how are you doing with working out the salvation that God has worked in? Do you agree with the premise of this devotional that it is God’s will, God’s work, and God’s pleasure being accomplished and that your role is to get out of His way so He can do what He wants? Why or why not? If the salvation worked in by the finished work of Jesus is not being worked out in your life and you sense changes are in order, what are those changes and how are they going to occur?

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