What does “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling mean?”
We listen to Forgotten Truths all the time and really enjoy Richard Jordan’s teaching. We have a question about the phrase “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. What is Paul talking about here? We need to be able to fully explain it to our friends who are not subscribers of the dispensational truths.
The context of Philippians 2:12,13 continues the purpose Paul wrote to the Philippian Saints. In Philippians 1:9-11, while the Philippian Church is a model church there is always seeds of discourse and room for improvement so Paul prays and writes to them concerning those things. He concludes by saying: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
Fruit comes from the life within. Not external, artificial works of the flesh, but the life of Christ within. Philippians 2:12,13, Paul is encouraging the Saints to work out that which is within. They already have Salvation. They have God working in them. Now they are to work out that which is already within them. 1st Timothy 4:7 says to “exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”
The “salvation” here is not from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin. In Philippians 1:19-21 Paul worked out his salvation in thinking through his situation. The Lord Jesus had the right mind in his situation – Philippians 2:5-8. Now the Philippians Saints are to have that same mind, i.e.; To live in anticipation of “the Day of Christ” – Philippians 1:6,10; 2:16.
The “fear and trembling” is in light of the Judgement Seat of Christ in which we will give account of ourselves, of our service. What did we do with the life and power God gave us upon salvation? Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-11 is the key. I hope that helps you.