We Are To Work Out Our Salvation!

February 18, 2013

Are we to do works? Absolutely! Works are fruit, and the results of our works produce more fruit –both in ourselves, others, and throughout the earth. The works that please God have to be done by His command, His leading, and in His Spirit. These are works done in the will of the Lord, the only kind that complete our faith (James 2:22) and make our faith genuine so that it is the kind of faith that makes a person justified before God. (v. 24)

When we talk about the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22,23), we must realize that these involve actions. We do not have kindness unless we are acting kindly. We do not have self-control unless we are behaving (acting) in ways that are mature and calm. We do not have gentleness or patience unless we are being gentle and patient in our actions. The life of the genuine follower of Christ is almost entirely about actions. To believe (something / anything) is in itself an action, for our mind is at work and our lifestyle follows.

A very wicked belief system has risen up amongst the flock which distorts the Truth (Acts 20:30) in numerous areas. I am speaking of Calvinism –a belief system of rebellion and blasphemy. –Blasphemy, for in singing about God’s love and justice, God is then actually mocked as the teachings go on to declare that God chooses and decrees, from eternity past, salvation or damnation for whomever He wills, and then by forcing either faith or unbelief upon everyone, God takes pleasure in, and demands glory for, His wondrous attribute of justice! If that sounds confusing, it is, for Calvinists are exceedingly confused individuals.

And how do they teach rebellion? One way is that, in teaching that God preordains everything –all actions, thoughts, words, situations, etc.– the Christian does not need to do anything! No, for God is the one who does it all, and so if He is not doing it, then they are safe in the complacency. Moreover, if they get the urge to sin, it must be God who is bringing on the urge, in spite of the fact that He is perfectly holy (as they rightly insist), for of course He has predestined all events (supposedly). And so these sin-lovers feel no remorse at all for their indulgence in sin. (I know, that too sounds confusing, but how can such a messed up doctrine be explained clearly?)

This prevalent belief system that is spreading a doctrine of rebellion is influencing even those who do not claim to be Calvinists. The teaching goes something like this: “We should not be making any effort to work out our salvation for that is to take away from what Christ has done for us.” And then they quote one of their favorites –Eph. 2:8,9 –that we’ve been saved by grace, through faith, it not being of ourselves or our works, but by God’s gift to us. Of course they rarely quote the very next verse which reveals to us that we are to do the works God has preplanned for us to do, nor do they seem to have eyes to see that throughout the Scriptures it has been made plain to us that everyone has been presented with the choice of accepting or refusing God’s plan for them.

Here are some of our choices Scripture tells us we have: “Choose life” (Dt. 30:19) by loving and obeying God (v. 16), or choose “death and destruction” (v.15) by being disobedient to God. (v. 17) Choose life and blessings, or death and curses. (v. 19) Choose to receive Christ (John 1:12) and “choose to do God’s will” (see 7:17), or choose to befriend the world and make oneself an enemy of God. (James 4:4) Choose to live according to the sinful nature and die (Rom. 8:13), or choose to, by the Spirit, put sinfulness to death and live. (same verse) Be a slave to sin and die (6:16), or be a slave to obedience, righteousness, and God, and reap eternal life. (6:16,22) Choose to master sin and do right and thus be accepted by God (Gen. 4:7), or choose to give in to sin and be cursed and banished from God’s presence (v. 7-16), including eternally. (2 Thes. 1:7-9) Does any of this sound like works –works of goodness, faithfulness, and self-control…? It should. Does it sound like God is laying any responsibility on us? It should. And being we are in an evil world and have an evil enemy who wants us to sin and be damned, does it appear that there might be some effort required on our part? Well, there is. And the effort is often strenuous.

As I said in the second-to-last paragraph of my post last night, God does require us to put forth effort in doing His will. God has given us assignments. He has made plans for us and commands that we walk in that plan. That blueprint often sends us into battles, sufferings, uncertainties, trials, and persecutions. The Lord does this to purify us, train us, discipline us, stretch us, teach us, and mold us to Christ-likeness, perfecting the fruit of the Spirit in us which we are to conduct ourselves in/by all life long. But is it easy? How can a battle be easy? How can suffering be nothing to us? No, the blueprint –if we’re to be most highly honored– involves excruciating pain! It’s a labor, a struggle, an endurance, an anguish, a work! But yes, it’s also a rest, as our Shepherd is there to carry us when we faint, and heal us when we’ve been wounded. It’s a co-effort. But God does not do for us until He sees us doing for Him. It’s like what Paul says in Col. 1:29: “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Who is struggling? Paul is (and we are). But whose energy do we use? God’s energy. And as we struggle, God’s energy works powerfully. In who? –God? No, “in me.”

This energy of God’s is available to all who advance faithfully in His will. God works wonders, but He does so when we activate His power within us by our obedience to His prompting. (Eph. 3:20 // Phil. 2:13) God destroys the enemy, but only as we advance in obedience to His plan. (Dt. 9:3 w/ Num. 13:30) If we reject the plan by shrinking back in fear, or even by complaining, the Lord will negate the promise and destroy the rebellious. (Num. 14:30-33) This warning goes for all of us! (1 Cor. 10:6,11 // Heb. 10:38,39)

Throughout God’s Word we are taught that we are to work and strive in order to advance in God’s Kingdom and in order to advance God’s Kingdom in the earth. Here are just a few more verses that show this:

In John 6:27 Jesus tells us, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”

1 Cor. 3:13 talks about “the fire [which] will test the quality of each man’s work.”

Phil. 2:12 says, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

1 Thes. 1:3 mentions, “…your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope…”

Acts 24:16 says, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

1 Tim. 4:10 says, in regards to spreading the Gospel, “…and for this we labor and strive…”

Rom. 14:19 commands us to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

Heb. 4:11 says, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” This is about the necessity of combining faith and obedience in entering our Promise Land / Sabbath-Rest / Christ, something which the Israelites refused to do when God brought them out of Egypt. (v. 1-10 & 3:6-19)

Heb. 12:14 admonishes us, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.”

2 Peter 3:14 exhorts us, “…make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.”

These are just a few verses that show us that the Word of God most definitely teaches that we are to strive to please God, which means W-O-R-K. Why would Paul say, “I beat my body and make it my slave”? (1 Cor. 9:27) In the same verse he tells us why: “So that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” –That prize which we are all told to run for, through great discipline, so that we may achieve it. (v. 24-26)

Scripture abundantly teaches the doctrine that we are to work out our salvation, and that this work is that which is done by the command of the Lord, in the will of the Lord, and within step with His Spirit. It is to walk just as Jesus did (1 John 2:6), He who acted and spoke just as He was instructed by His Father. (John 12:50 & 14:31) This is how we too bear fruit –which is the only way we can please the Lord. It’s done by His power, but it does take our cooperation; in fact, our continual, whole-hearted efforts.

May we never let false teachings waylay our labor to accomplish these obedient works!

with love,

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