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This rather long, and is something I found on Facebook. I like it very much. It’s the kind of thing I would write.

Work out my salvation – but how?

by Lyn Packer on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 3:18pm ·

The other day at our “Outrageous Grace – religious detox day” someone asked me to explain the verse where Paul tells us to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil 2:12-13). While I answered the question in an okay way, to be honest I felt that my on-the-spot answer didn’t go deep enough. So this article gives a more in-depth answer to the question. I do apologise for it’s length but it is an important topic and deserves looking at and understanding properly.

First here’s the verse in two translations:

ISV – “And so, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you but even more now that I am absent, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.”

WAY – “Since I am far away, work out, with fear and trembling self distrust, your own salvation. You have not to do it in your own strength. 13 It is God who is all the while supplying the impulse, giving you the power to resolve and the strength to perform the execution of his good pleasure.”

Work hard…

The most common understanding of this verse is that we were saved by grace and faith, and while we didn’t have to earn our salvation, now that we are saved we do have to work hard at working for God and pleasing Him. We are to do so with fear and trembling (having the fear of God in our lives) in case He is not happy with us, or in case that when we stand before Him He says, “Go away, I never knew you.” It is to live in a state of uneasiness and fear, never knowing if our best will actually be good enough. But that is, I believe, a very wrong interpretation of this verse.

If that is a wrong interpretation then what is the right one?

Firstly, when the disciples asked Jesus what they should do to work the works of God, He answered that they should believe in the one that God sent (in Him). John 6:28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (NASB)


  • This is the foremost and foundational part of our works before God – to believe in Jesus, who He is and what He has done!

Is that it, though? Even in a grace walk is there nothing else we are to do? Surely it is not just as simple as that? As we will continue to see in this article our idea of works and God’s are often different.

Work out your salvation…

The salvation in this verse is not the salvation that we commonly understand – Jesus dying on the cross for us and us believing and ‘receiving that salvation’. It is something different.

“The word ‘salvation’ has many different meanings in the NT. In Phil 1:19 it means deliverance from prison. In Phil 1:28 it refers to the salvation of our bodies. The meaning in any particular case must be determined in part, at least, by the context. We believe that in this passage salvation means the solution of the problem that was vexing the Philippians – that is, their contentions, squabbles & strife. The apostle has given them the remedy. Now they are to apply the remedy by having the mind of Christ. Thus they would work out their own salvation, or the solution of their difficulty.” (BBC)

“In light of Paul’s preceding exhortation to the Philippians to unity, this passage may mean that the entire church was to work together to rid themselves of divisions and discord. The Philippian Christians needed to be especially careful to obey Christ, now that Paul wasn’t there to continually remind them about what was right.” (LASB)

So we see that part of our works is to love one another – to let Christ’s love be unleashed through us, not to love in our own strength. It is to be diligent in maintaining the unity of the Body of Christ, working out our problems with each other in a godly and scriptural way, tapping into the mind of Christ. In other words it’s not about our effort, it’s about letting Christ live through us.

In fear and trembling…

The fear and trembling mentioned here in this verse is not the fear of God or the fear that we won’t be good enough for Him. According to scholars, “The kind of fear which is recommended here is self distrust, a fear that leads to caution and care. Not slavish terror, but wholesome caution, it is tenderness of conscience; it is vigilance against temptation.” (VWS)

As mentioned above, the Philippian Christians now have the mind of Christ and Paul is saying that they should use Christ’s wisdom and His knowledge in their life and church situations rather than their own or the world’s. The world’s wisdom, or even our own human wisdom, cannot wholly be trusted so we need to have self-distrust in that way. It’s a distrust that makes us ask, “Is this Christ’s wisdom or man’s that I’m about to apply to this situation?”

So what does it mean?…

Paul is in prison, not around to keep an eye on those he loves and cares for, so he writes as an apostolic father to them. Basically, I believe he is saying something like this –

“It’s time to grow up, guys, I’m not there to keep you out of trouble. I’m not there to deliver you from your squabbles and problems. I’m not there to warn you when religion and legalism is trying to creep in. You’ve got to begin to take responsibility for your own grace walk before God. You have to learn for yourself just what the Christian life is all about. You need to get your own understanding of the wonderful work Jesus did for you – you can’t keep walking in my revelation. Outward motivation like that won’t work. It’s got to become your revelation and then you’ll be inwardly motivated. But even then, don’t rely on your own efforts to live the life Christ has for you. Don’t believe that lie; your best efforts just won’t cut it. Distrust the voice that says that you need to ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ to be a good Christian. That’s not Christianity, that’s religion and it’s not what you were born again into. Remember – it’s for freedom that Christ set you free. He didn’t set you free to bring you back into another form of religious bondage. Your best efforts are not good enough for any aspect of your salvation and Christian walk. Remember that it is Christ who gives you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him, so rely on Jesus and Holy Spirit – let them live this life in you and through you.”

Unforced rhythms…

Put the above mentioned verse (Phil 2:12 – 13) together with some others and you get a good picture of the attitude and the way in which we work out our salvation.

1 Cor 2:12 – 16 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

  • We have been given the mind of Christ – His wisdom, His knowledge, His strategic thinking mind. We are to use His wisdom, not our own or the world’s.

Matt 11:28-30 says “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. In grace there is an ease, a rest that we can live in and walk in that is relaxed and unforced – not a result of our works, but of Christ’s.

Heb 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest… (KJV)

Again here is a verse that makes it sound as if we have to work hard to obtain something in God. But does it actually mean work hard?

Labour = make haste, be diligent, zealous (SC, TGD)

Labour, in this verse, means to be diligent. Diligent means ‘to show care or conscientiousness’. It comes from the word ‘dilgens’ which means to love or take delight in. So this diligence is not something heavy it is something that is a delight. I believe that part of that delightful diligence, that conscientiousness, is that entering and staying in that state of rest should be a thing of prime importance.

So this is working out our salvation….

  • To receive and enter that rest state that Christ has provided and stay in it and then out of that to do what pleases Him.
  • To be diligent in maintaining that rest and all that Christ has given us (John 6:39), not letting the enemy steal it from us (John 10:10).
  • To allow the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds (Phil 4:7).
  • To not let the enemy whisper in our minds and establish thoughts that set themselves up against Christ (2 Cor 10:5). It means pulling down those thoughts and bringing them into submission to Christ.
  • To not let the enemy condemn us and tell us that we aren’t performing well enough (Rom 5:18; 8:1).
  • To believe that Christ will lead us, guide us, and provide a way out in every temptation (1 Cor 10:13) and give us what we need in every circumstance for everything He asks of us (2 Pet 1:3).
  • It is to believe and trust Him!

This then is what it means to work out our salvation. Our works are primarily to believe, trust and rest in Christ. When we do that we are diligently labouring to work out our salvation. From that place of rest and trust anything we do with Christ is not hard but joyful, and our burden is easy and light. And so we keep vigilant, we make sure that we enter and guard our state of rest. We work out our salvation, both eternal and earthly (problems, temptations etc), by relying on Christ, His mind, wisdom and strength to help us in every situation. Out of that state of rest, and knowing that Christ will supply our every need, we then cooperate with Him, doing His will and releasing heaven into earth.




Morality concerns right and wrong. We all think we must choose. Everyone has a conscience. It’s built into us, ever since Eden.

Morality implies that God is rewarding and punishing. He is not.

Believers know we are made right by Christ. Yet we also must choose. But when we choose the unwise or harmful thing, it is not held against us by God. What we do is continue to act in love. This is where grace leads us.

The capacity for love is in everyone, and grace influences everyone. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, remember. But none are being ‘held accountable’ because Jesus did indeed reconcile all things.

Accountability and offense were only connected to the law of Moses. It was given to the Jews, and not the Gentiles. All peoples went by what their consciences told them, a sort of natural law place in them by God. But their decisions were not held against any by God.

The power of love and grace in our lives is what makes us free from having to choose right or wrong. It is the very gospel. When we live knowing we are loved by God, we can then love others.

We are rescued from morality, to live by His life in us. Those who are not doing this have not believed the good news. They are still choosing right and wrong, and worried about reward and punishment for those choices.

Living by grace is denying nothing that Jesus did, as some charge! He did it all and it is finished. This is the good news.






Hi to the family, from Papa and Jesus and me;

I love you all, and we are all one, being bound together by Papa’s love.

To err is human, to forgive divine. This is closer to the truth than you realize. It describes human nature. It does not imply guilt or wrong doing, only messing up, missing it, erring.

The only reason to ever feel guilty is if we offend another person. Then we need to make it right if we can, because love is the answer.

But Jesus says that Papa in not ever offended. So we can relax. We no longer try to make Papa happy by being good.

Grace, Papa’s very voice inside us, teaches us His ways, not a list of dos and don’ts.

When we look for rules to live by, we miss out, big time. We lose the benefit of Papa’s voice, because we are looking at the rules and not listening to Him.

So what about those who seem to be living in error? What is the standard?

The work of the spirit is to help us hear Papa’s voice, and show us His ways. But doing our own selfish thing works against Papa’s ways.

And He is always for us. How can we turn that away?

The world will not fall apart if we let the Spirit do its work. Surely we can trust Papa? Yes! He will never lead anyone away from His ways. This is called grace.

Help others learn to hear Papa too. If you try to make others fit your idea of how to find the way, you have gotten it wrong. Each one listens for only one voice – Papa’s!

Truly, the only reason to step in is when someone is causing harm. Harm comes from selfishness. It is the opposite of love and grace, and is not from Papa.

But love never fails. Above all, love each other! If it is love, let it be. Rejoice!

And now, from Papa, and Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself for us, and from me, your sister, love and grace.



Jesus told the woman taken in adultery that He did not condemn her, though the law said He must. He then told her to go and sin no more. It’s my opinion that she was forgiven at that point. Jesus forgave sins and the religious leaders called it blasphemy, for He made himself equal with God – only God could forgive transgressions of the law.

The woman went her way, set free. Did she break the law again? I’m  sure she did. We know that it is impossible to keep it. Jesus was not laying an impossible burden on her, but was instead freeing her.


Then there is the crippled man. Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk. He was healed, but didn’t know who it was that healed him. So then Jesus found him in the temple and told him to go and sin no more, lest a worse thing happen to him.


I think it was important for this man to know he too was forgiven of his transgressions  because Jesus then told him that he was made whole. In the Jewish mind, whole that meant saved and delivered as well as physically healed.

The Jews also thought that being a cripple meant that someone had sinned, parents or the person, to bring this punishment upon someone. Jesus told the man he was whole. Being whole, he could go his way, not transgressing and not subject to some other “punishment”.

It’s all in how you read it and understand it, through the finished work of Christ.  

So the man went his way, forgiven. He sinned no more because, like the woman, Jesus had the power on earth to forgive. When Jesus forgave, it was total. Those whom He forgave were free before the cross, just as we are free from any condemnation after the cross. The timing means little in God’s view and plan.



Jesus is our example. He didn’t crush a bent reed or put out a smoking wick. The only ones he ‘scourged’ were the money changers in the temple, and it’s not clear if He actually lashed any… only drove them out. I picture a cowboy with a whip or lariat whirling over His head in a threatening may. And the scourging thing may have been a figure of speech or a reference to an OT passage.

God is love, and love does not harm….. If we look at 2 Cor 13, we see that love always seeks the good, does not remember wrongs.

So, we learn by the grace in our hearts, which teaches us godliness (His ways). There are no written rules under grace, but that still small voice, that twinge in your conscience or even in your being, sort of in the pit of your stomach. And if you are on the right track, it’s that little glow, that feeling of pleasure, of liking.

God puts that there. And it will not disagree with His character, His love. If it does not line up with love and the fruit of the spirit, it is coming from your own selfish desires. It is not sin, it just the flesh being itself. When you see you may be operating from there, get back unto love.

In the OT a scourge was a rod… like the one Moses lifted up against the Red Sea. The enemies were drowned. The word used in the NT means to flog or whip or scourge. In Hebrews 12:6, where the word is used in combination with discipline, the word can be literal or figurative.

Hebrews is address to the Jewish believers for the purpose of teaching them what the New Covenant means. We should not be applying everything in it to our lives now, because we no real reference to that context. Gentiles and never had the law, and if we are from a Jewish background, the law was taken away at the cross.

In Psalm 23, the rod and staff are a comfort. Could it be that what we are really talking about is that God leads us (the shepherd doesn’t drive the sheep, but leads them) and God raises

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