Work Out Your Own Salvation

“Wherefore, 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.” Philippians 2:12

A superficial reading of that text might lead to understanding that it means a person has to work to deserve salvation. Up front, it doesn’t mean that, and the Bible doesn’t mean that.

As an aside the Book of James seems to teach salvation is by work. It doesn’t teach that. 

In contrast to the rest of the Bible, James was written not to teach how to be saved, but what do after being saved, that is, work as taught in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”  

In the Philippians verse “work out your salvation” is used in the same sense as in math when a teacher presents a complex problem, and says “work it out,” meaning take it to its logical conclusion.

To “work out your salvation,” means take it to its proper conclusion. We are not saved by works, but to work.

We are His “workmanship.” This is the translation of poiema. It is a root from which we get our word poem. From where does a poem come? The mind of the poet. From where did you come? You are God’s poiema, you are His workmanship, He made you. For what? To engage in creative work. That is why it is so fulfilling.