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If salvation has nothing to do with our own works how do you explain Philippians 2:12, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."?

There are two very important rules in determining just what a verse means. Number one, look carefully at the context of that verse. In this case who is he writing to and what is he writing about? Number two, does what it appears to mean harmonize with the rest of the scriptures on that particular subject?

Here Paul is writing to people already saved. He is encouraging them to live out what they already have within. Salvation is all of God. He planned it and He produces it in all that repent and believe in His Son who died for their sins at Calvary. This is beautifully set forth in this Epistle. You will notice in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ." This verse is saying that God the Holy Spirit has started a good work of salvation in them and He will finish it. Now Philippians 2:12-13, is simply saying that God is continuing this good work in them. "For it is God that worketh in you both to will and do His good pleasure" Philippians 2:13. In Philippians 3:21, "Who (Christ) shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body...." This is the completion of that good work. What the writer to the Philippians is really saying in Philippians 3:12, is that they should let God do His continuing work in them, by yielding in obedience to God's working in their lives. We cannot work for our salvation but we can hinder the working of God in our salvation. You will note, that the verse does not say work FOR but OUT your salvation. You can't work out what has not been worked in. Romans 11:6. says, "And if BY GRACE it is no more WORKS. But if by WORKS it is no more GRACE...? God saves either a person by His grace or man is saved by works without the help of God and grace. To put this latter statement in harmony with the Bible, we must conclude that God and His grace alone works this salvation to all the trust Christ. Have you trusted Him?

All comments and questions to: Harold Smith

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Updated February 26th, 2014 by Sandra Felix