work out your salvation with fear and trembling

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB)

As an immature Christian the above passage struck a bit of fear in my heart … here are people who in Jesus name are prophesying, casting out demons and performing miracles and Jesus says, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

How is that possible? And then in Philippians 2:12 Paul writes ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ … well, you betcha.  If those guys in Matthew 7 aren’t getting in, then yes, I will be working out my salvation with great fear and trembling!

But I missed two important points with these two passages of Scripture.  First, the Philippians passage is just a small snippet of a complete thought …

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 (NASB)

God (not me) is at work IN me, both to will and work for His good pleasure.  My fear and trembling is not in regard to my salvation … it is in regard to the fact that almighty God has made His dwelling place within me and is constantly doing his maturing and perfecting work IN and THRU me.

Praise God … the outcome of my salvation is not based on my efforts … if it was, salvation would be totally and completely unobtainable!

And that is part of the point in the Matthew 7 passage …

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB)

You see it?

The works were not based on what the Lord was doing IN and THRU them, they were based on what they (we) were doing … regardless of how faithful or spiritual they might appear.  And one thing for certain when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit make their dwelling place within a person and begin to work IN and THRU that person, they will certain know that person.  Note the words of Jesus above,  ‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.’

Consider the following …

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So then, you will know them by their fruits.”  Matthew 7:18-20 (NASB)

Our best efforts can never cause the growth of fruit … so there is no list of things we can do to ensure we are growing good fruit … that is the work of God, the Gardener, the Vine dresser.

But the bolded verse above does suggest that we should know what the fruit of a good tree looks like … and I would take that to mean in ourselves as well as others.  As you consider the posts of this past week, consider them as fruit examination posts that I was writing to myself (and there are some places the Lord may need to do a bit of pruning) … if you so desire, use them for yourselves accordingly.

Be blessed in the assurance that Jesus is ALL IN ALL!

Bernie

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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11 Responses to work out your salvation with fear and trembling

  1. Annie B says:

    Wonderful message and thank you! Annie B:)

  2. savedbygrace says:

    amen!

    “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
    – John 6:29

    what we ought to do is to believe in Jesus.

    be blessed today brother!

    – grace and peace

  3. The passages in Mt. 7 point to the need for the fruit(s) of the Spirit more than certain (spectacular) gifts of the Spirit (which might be showcased selfishly). In Philippians, Paul especially connects the joy of salvation (joy being another fruit of the Spirit) with suffering with (and for) Christ. Paul says they have shared with him in grace, in the good work God has begun in them, by the love (another fruit) they showed to him in his imprisonment (Phil. 1:5-7). Thus his prayer is that this grace (including the Spirit) may produce more and more love, so they are filled with the fruits of righteousness and thus blameless on the (final) day of Christ (1:9-11).

    The Philippian church had sent Epaphroditus to help take care of Paul in prison; yet Epaphroditus then became sick and almost died (2:25-30). Thus the church has been fearful about the outcome of the suffering of both Paul and Epaphroditus. Paul thus assures them it has been given (graced) to them that for the sake of Christ they should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (1:29). In 2:1-11 Paul then portrays how the love of Christ (without selfishness or conceit) led him to humble himself and become obedient unto death; thus God exalted him. This leads to 2:12-13, starting out “therefore,” given Paul’s absence and imprisonment for the gospel, they need to (continue to) work out their salvation (the work of grace in speaking the gospel and in showing love to those suffering for the gospel) with fear and trembling (due to the difficulties of suffering for Christ). If they do this without grumbling or questioning (God’s grace in their suffering), they will be blameless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (which causes their suffering), remaining lights in the (dark) world, holding fast the word (gospel) of life, so that on the (final) day of Christ Paul will not have labored (among them) in vain (2:14-16).

  4. As the elect of God, we are still tempted to find the power of our daily walk in self-works, when all along “it is God works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). I’m reminded so often that Paul was convinced that “He who has begun a good work in you [saints in Christ Jesus, 1:1] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). Thank you for preaching the amazing grace of our sovereign God, Bernie. Salvation is of the Lord!

    • bwebbjr says:

      Richard,

      Thank you so much for recognizing and re-enforcing the message of God’s amazing grace and indwelling presence I so desperately want everyone to see when they come this way.

      For so many years I found myself bound in the trappings of religion. To experience the freedom found only IN Christ and the amazing grace of God found in a mutual indwelling relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit brings such great hope, peace and joy that I wish all could find.

      Salvation is of the Lord indeed!

      Bernie

  5. judikruis says:

    Thank you for all of your posts Bernie. In this one as you pointed out the WE I thought too of how we work to prune ourselves, fertilize ourselves and more and we don’t let God do the beautiful work He wants to do in us. Especially when it might seem difficult and we have an easier way. Very fitting for me today. God Bless you!

    • bwebbjr says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words Judi … I always delight in finding out that God has touched someone’s heart through something written here … may God bless you in what he has revealed to you today. Bernie

    • bwebbjr says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words Judi … I always delight in finding out that God has touched someone’s heart through something written here … may God bless you in what he has revealed to you today. Bernie

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