“Work Out Your Own Salvation”

“My beloved, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
—Philippians 2:12,13

ACCORDING TO MANY Christian people this advice would commonly seem strange because of the commonly accepted belief that a person is saved as soon as he becomes one of the Lord’s people. While it is true that “we are saved by hope” (Rom. 8:24), actual salvation will not be attained until we are born on the spirit plane, in the first resurrection. Up to that time there is always a possibility of our leaving the faith—ceasing to follow on faithfully in the doing of the Lord’s will concerning us, failing to so run as to obtain the prize.

The epistle to the Philippians is addressed to the saints in Christ Jesus, and when the apostle says, ‘your own salvation,’ he is particularizing the salvation peculiar to the Gospel Age, the “great salvation.” (Heb. 2:3) It is not merely a salvation from sin, but very much more. Not only is it to be everlasting, but it is a salvation to glory, honor, and immortality, joint-heirship with Christ Jesus in all the glorious things that are his—in his exalted position, far above angels, principalities, and powers, and every name that is named.—Eph. 1:21


‘It is God which worketh in you.’ We, who were of the Adamic family, are being transformed, and developed along the lines which the Father has marked out for us, that he may make of us a New Creation.

We did not begin this work ourselves. It would never have occurred to us, uninvited, to endeavor to become members of a Divine family. It would have been the height of presumption for us to do so, without an express invitation. It is God who planned the whole matter. He has been working in us. There is no changeableness with him, and when once he made this proposition, he meant it to the full. We are assured that if we are faithful, he who has begun the good work in us will complete it.

The only requirement is our own faithfulness. God will never fail. We are his workmanship. He is doing a great work, and we are to cooperate with him diligently. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,” and by the Holy Spirit. (James 1:18) Our Father’s will is revealed to us by his holy influence, and through the inspired Word. By his Divine providence, we have experiences in life that teach us both ‘to will and to do of his good pleasure.’

When we made our consecration we were willing to do God’s will, but we did not then understand that will fully. As we went on, we perceived his will more and more distinctly. As we discern the leadings of his providence in all the experiences of life, we become more and more imbued with his Holy Spirit. Thus God gradually works in us. The ‘willing’ comes first, then the quickening, energizing, doing, follows. The will of God has become our will, our mind. The apostle wanted to do so and says, “With the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:25) The flesh has inherited various weaknesses and fallen tendencies, therefore we are unable to do perfect works.

We need always to remember that the loving Redeemer shall be our great Advocate that we may come with courage to the throne of heavenly grace and find mercy and help in time of need. God is working in us—first to will, and then to do his good pleasure. (Heb. 4:16) Every promise of God is to this end, not merely that we should acknowledge his will, but that we should rejoice to do his good pleasure.


When we gladly complied with Romans 12:1 we were justified (declared right), not by works but by faith (Rom. 5:1), and became sons of God, begotten by the Holy Spirit through the Word of Truth. Then came the time when we could do acceptable works, as members of the Lord’s family.

The Holy Spirit within us, through this begetting, now has an opportunity to manifest itself, to do some works. In other words, as imperfect human beings we cannot work out our salvation, but as New Creatures we can do this, with the Lord’s help. The expression, ‘Work out your own salvation,’ has a peculiar force and meaning. It suggests something that is difficult, that requires time and patience. As consecrated followers of Jesus, we have already presented our bodies as living sacrifices, and that which we have undertaken lies before us.

We see how our Master laid down his earthly life, and we learn from the Scriptures that he is our Exemplar. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) The Lord Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan. There he was fully consecrated, and the Holy Spirit came upon him in begetting power. Then it remained for him, during his earthly sacrificial walk and ministry, to ‘work out’ that consecration. Every act of life during that crucial period was the fulfilling of his covenant of sacrifice.

Jesus had covenanted to sacrifice his human nature with all its conditions and possibilities that he might carry out the Father’s eternal purpose. For this cause he came into the world, and he faithfully fulfilled his covenant. His glorious reward was the Divine nature and the authority to execute all the Father’s great program.

So it is to be with us, his followers. We, being imperfect, but “justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1), are covered by “the robe of righteousness,” which constitutes our “wedding garment.” (Isa. 61:10; Matt. 22:11,12) Thus we stand before our Father acceptable in Christ Jesus. All the children of God who are true to their covenant are working out their salvation from day to day. It is a work of sacrifice; a daily work of crucifying the flesh. From the beginning of our consecrated life we are reckoned as being fully “crucified with him [Christ];” but the actual crucifixion is a slow, painful, lingering process, and ends only with the completion of our sacrifice in death.—Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; 5:24

“Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Ps. 50:5) is the command of Jehovah. To what extent are we performing this work of sacrifice in ourselves, and also assisting in the work of gathering the saints of God unto him? Are we faithful to the extent of our ability and opportunity? Are we sure that we are careful to note the opportunities, great and small, that are within our reach? If we do not see our opportunities, the Lord will use another to do the work that might have been ours—and we shall lose the blessing and the reward of the service that we might have rendered.

Our agreement was to be dead to the world, dead to earthly hopes, aims, ambitions, and alive toward God. We are to demonstrate in our thoughts, words, and deeds that everything in this contract is ‘bona fide’ on our part, that we still mean every word of it, and that we are determined to be faithful unto death.


In the expression, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,’ we are not to understand that the Lord wishes his children literally to tremble with fear before him. The thought is, rather, to exercise much carefulness, realizing our great responsibility, and the liability of our failing to meet all the requirements unless we give the most earnest attention.

While it is true that we are to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16), it is for us to understand also that our eternal interests are in the balance. It is an issue of life or death. Those who win the prize will be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, partakers of the Divine nature to a glory and honor beyond human power to imagine. The Scriptures teach us that no such offer will ever be made again.

The Son of God holds the position next to Jehovah, and is only to have but one ‘bride.’ Surely, then, there is need that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling; in other words, with great carefulness and earnestness in respect to everything connected with it. We should be keenly appreciative of the fact that it is the most wonderful opportunity in all the universe of God.

When the church is complete beyond the veil, the door for this “high calling” (Phil. 3:14) will be shut, never to open again. As we realize these facts, it is no wonder that we feel our need of walking, as the apostle, says, “circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15), and of weighing our thoughts so as to be in conformity to the will of God in Christ. There is no room here for foolishness or frivolity. God is testing every power we possess, to prove the depth and sincerity of consecration.


‘It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’ The fully consecrated children of God have been called with a heavenly calling to joint-heirship with Jesus in the glory, honor, and immortality of the kingdom. “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) During our earthly pilgrimage the way is narrow and difficult, because the successful enduring of the necessary tests is indispensable to those whom God would grant this honor of being partakers of the Divine nature.—Matt. 7:14; Rom. 8:17

The Apostle Paul who indeed was called to run for the heavenly prize, wrote of the necessity he had of severely disciplining himself: “I severely discipline my body, and make it subservient [word for word translation, ‘I … lead it captive’]; lest possibly, having proclaimed to others, I myself should become one unapproved.”—I Cor. 9:27, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

We similarly have to discipline our body severely. The new mind, the New Creature, begotten and energized by the Holy Spirit and by the inspired Word, must take control. “Put off, according to the former course of life, that old man, corrupted by deceitful desires; … and be you clothed with that new man, who, according to God, has been formed in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”—Eph. 4:22,24, WED

As long as we are in this earthly tabernacle, we shall be conscious of the weaknesses of the flesh. We can rejoice with great peace of mind and complete assurance in the knowledge and experience of Ephesians 1:6,7, that our Father has made us accepted in the Beloved; “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” As we continue to cling to that righteousness from God, which is through the faith of Christ (Phil. 3:9), we cultivate, by the Lord’s help, all the graces of the Holy Spirit to the fullest extent of our ability, seeing to it that we grow more and more in the image of our Lord and Head.—Rom. 8:29

Using the sentiments of the apostle, we pursue, that we may lay hold on that (heavenly prize) for which we have been “laid hold on by Christ.” (Phil. 3:12, WED) Indeed, maintaining our full consecration to God, and receiving an increasing measure of the Holy Spirit; also feeding daily upon God’s Holy Word and persevering in prayer, trusting not in our own strength and ability, but upon our Father’s almighty power, we “press along the line, towards the prize of the high calling of God by Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:14, WED

In II Peter 1:2-11 is given a guarantee that “if ye do” certain things mentioned, “ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” It will then be our great joy and privilege as part of a Divine government (Christ Jesus and his glorified church) to assist in the grandest of all kingdom work—raising earth’s dead billions and establishing God’s glorious kingdom in the earth, which kingdom of life, joy, and peace shall never pass away.


By the grace of God we are invited to work out a wonderful salvation. Ours is a marvelous transformation. Selected from a race of bond-slaves of sin, beings of a fleshly nature, depraved, death-stricken, sin-cursed, we are lifted out of the miry clay, are washed, cleansed from our pollution, our soiled rags of unrighteousness, and a new nature has been begun in us. Our earthward tendencies are gradually being bent heavenward.

We are transformed, day by day, rising up and up until, our resurrection completed, the work of transformation fully accomplished, we are exalted to heights unimaginable; seated upon Messiah’s throne, beside the infinite Son of God, partakers of his glorious nature, the nature of Jehovah himself—the Divine nature. Can mortal man conceive so marvelous a glory? What can we render unto the Lord that can fittingly demonstrate our gratitude, our thankfulness, for so unspeakable a favor? Surely the most faithful service we can give is but a very feeble return to him who has so loved, blessed, and honored us!

We receive the Holy Spirit at the time of the Lord’s acceptance of us, at our consecration. But the New Creature cannot long remain quiet. It must grow through nourishment, through feeding. At first we desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. (I Pet. 2:2) We become strong by the exercise of ourselves as New Creatures.

But it was God who started the new life in us. All our studying, without the help of the holy influence, would not have made New Creatures of us. No amount of works would have done it. These endeavors of our own would never have brought us into the Lord’s family; but after we come into his family through the Lord Jesus, these good works will begin to show.

The new mind takes over the old body as its possession, to be its servant. The new mind masters its old body, and gets more and more control of the old disposition of the flesh, and, by Divine help, becomes strong. We more and more become copies of God’s dear Son.

If any are disloyal and fail to take a firm stand for the Lord and the Truth for fear that they will be disesteemed among their fellowmen, or for any other reason, it will prove that they are not worthy to share with Christ the glories of his throne, as members of his body. All who hope to be of this number have professed his name; and they must be steadfast, holding fast their confidence and the profession of their faith even unto the end.

As fully consecrated children of God, we have learned to know our Father, and to trust his precious Word. We have proved his gracious promises in many a time of stress and danger, and we know that he will not fail us. Our God has led us thus far, and he will continue to lead and help us, and work in us by his Spirit and his Word of Truth, if we continue to give heed, and render obedience to his counsel.

It is our great privilege to rejoice in the full assurance, and in the experience, that we are “kept [or guarded] by the power of God through faith.” (I Pet. 1:5) Emptying ourselves more and more of self, thereby enabling us to receive an increasing measure of the Holy Spirit, we should see to it that we are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph. 6:10) And his ‘might’ is powerful. Paul speaks of it as “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”—Eph. 1:19,20

Ours is a marvelous calling! Heroic overcomers are wanted; those who have the Master’s spirit. “To him that overcometh” will Jesus grant to sit with him in his throne. “They that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 3:21; 17:14) The Apostle Peter encourages us, saying, “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”—II Pet. 1:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |