A Hard Saying in the Bible

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”  Phillippians 2:12b,13

Christian theologians and ordinary people have often questioned this verse.  “If salvation is by grace through faith, how can you work out your salvation?”  They may shrug it off as a poor translation, or file it away as a question they’ll ask in heaven, but they don’t have an answer.  If I were writing a bible paraphrase, I think I would substitute the word “live” for the word “work”.  I think in our current English idiom, “live” better communicates the meaning.  “Live out your salvation.”  Salvation is, after all, a holistic concept, beyond the narrow definition of “getting to heaven.”  It certainly includes the concept of a changed life, and  being made over in the image of Christ.  We must be made ready for heaven–certainly God’s work, but done with our cooperation.  If we are saved, we are also saved FOR something.  As an old pastor used to say “if you are only saved for heaven, you might as well drown in baptism.”  We are saved to become more like Christ and we are saved for certain works that God has prepared for us.  Therefore we need to live like it.  We strive to be what He has called us to be and do what He has called us to do.  We “live out our salvation.”


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One Response to “A Hard Saying in the Bible”

  1. timglass Says:

    Well said.

    May God’s richest blessings be yours.


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