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Archive for September, 2013

On this weekend when we honor workers and celebrate the rewards of our work, I am reminded of a scripture passage that encourages us to work out our own salvation: Philippians 2:12-13.  It says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good please.”

At first hearing, these two verse may cause panic in the protestant mind: “I thought we were saved by grace.” “I thought it was impossible to work our way to heaven.”  “How can Paul possibly say, ‘work out your own salvation’?”  “Do we really need fear and tremble?”

I think our initial reaction to this verse may be a result of our tendency to view salvation as escape, rather than as an empowerment. Many of us tend to see salvation as something God gives us so that one day in the future we may escape our bodies and earthly situation.  And if we’re not careful, we end up ignoring God’s call  for the present time and in the material world.   In the Bible, salvation is God’s actions to deliver his people.  This deliverance is not for their relaxation, but for their restoration. This restoration begins here and now, as the kingdom of God breaks in upon this world , and accomplishes God’s will on earth, just as it is in heaven.  As God’s restores us through his saving power, he equips us to be his agents of healing in the world.   This is why Paul finishes the verse by saying, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Our salvation isn’t merely for our own pleasure in the sky hereafter. It is for God’s pleasure now and in the future as he works in us and through us to redeem the world.  As his agents on earth, we our called to make sure that we are working out this salvation. We are encourage to hold fast to the word of life, to persevere in the race, confident that it is God himself who is energizing us and working through us.  And one day, we will gladly enter into our eternal reward.

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