Aiden Wilson Tozer
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 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 do for His good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:12-13
On the one hand, there is our responsibility to do what we believe God wants us to do. On the other hand, there is God’s providential work in our lives to accomplish His Will through us. How shall we reconcile the two? For the logician, it is an either/or situation, because the two sides seem to logically cancel one another out. But for the Apostle Paul in our verses for today, in contrast, it is a both/and situation. We work out our own salvation, and God also works through us to accomplish His good pleasure.
“Work out your own salvation” does not mean that the members of the Philippian church must figure out a way to save themselves. It means that in Paul’s absence they are responsible on their own apart from him to work out the implications of the salvation they have received from God through faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, they should produce works befitting those who have been saved by God without Paul telling them what to do.
“With fear and trembling” does not imply that if the people do not work out their salvation just right they can lose their salvation. It means that they should work out their salvation with reverential humility and respect for the God whom they serve. Since they are now responsible on their own, they should be careful not to offend God through disobedience. The truly reverent and humble person cares greatly what God thinks of them.
Although the Philippian church must now work apart from Paul, they do not work apart from God. This is because God is working through them to accomplish His Will. The church can be confident that He “who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
The mind of the logician boggles before our verses for today, but the person of faith accepts and rejoices in the mystery that includes both our responsible, reverential work and God’s providential work through us.
© 2016 by Bible League International