“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye
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 which worketh
in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Do all things without
murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and
harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and
perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of
life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain,
neither laboured in vain.
Yea, and if I be offered upon
the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (Phil.
My salvation is my duty; your
salvation is yours. It is no one else’s. Our place before the eternal throne is
our responsibility—not the pastor’s, not the elder’s, not our parents’, not a
mentor’s, not a prayer team’s. It is not even our prophet’s. Cursed is everyone who
trusts in a man to do their own personal work of seeking God. We can and need to pray for others to find the Lord; but, no one can seek God for
another. No one can receive faith for another.
The above people can give
guidance; and we need to choose people who can give us advice from
their experience and wisdom. We have a prophet, Ellen White, who has spoken for
Jesus. Jesus spoke to her and she faithfully relayed His high standard to all
who would listen. But, beyond what others can teach us, our salvation depends
on our acting upon what we have heard and read from Jesus, the Fountainhead of the river of the water of life.
“Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling.” This work is of the utmost gravity. Many today say that
fear of God has no place in the walk of grace. That is the devil-speak. We are
not only to fear but to tremble when it comes to our salvation. Because we are
cooperating with God, “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen.
14:19) and standing before His most holy Law. We are uniting with the Judge of all the earth. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.” (Rev. 4:8). “Holy and reverend is His name.” (Ps. 111:9).
Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Isaiah,
Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul fell on their faces before Him. Every creature falls
prostrate and trembles before the Creator of heaven and earth when they come
Even one of His angels can cause this
effect. “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and
for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” (Matt. 28:3-4).
The New Testament is full of
the fear of the Lord. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may
fear.” (1Tim. 5:20).
Jesus Himself was full of the
fear of His Father. That fear is what allowed His Father to keep Him strong
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and
a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the Spirit of the LORD
shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of
counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
And shall make Him of quick
understanding in the fear of the LORD: and He shall not judge after the sight
of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears:
But with righteousness shall He
judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall
smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips
shall He slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be
the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.” (Isa.
The devil fears God and trembles
(James 2:19) before Him, and the last thing Satan wants is for the children of
Jesus to possess His fear of the Lord and for them to let His righteousness gird their
loins and His faithfulness to God gird their minds.
“Stand therefore, having your
loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
…wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Eph.
It is true that there is not
fear in love. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:
because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1Jn.
4:18). But, that fear is the fear of man, fear of mortal death, being too
afraid to trust God after all that He has given us to win our hearts back to
Him. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such
things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man
shall do unto me.” (Heb. 13:5,6).
“Forasmuch then as the
children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part
of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of
death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all
their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14,15).
“Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps. 2:11).
That gives a balanced concept of worship and sanctification.
As children fear their loving
fathers, so must we fear our loving God. “Like as a father pitieth his
children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.” (Ps. 103:13).
We must fear the Lord, even
as we love Him; otherwise, we will lose our soberness and fall prey to the
devil. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring
lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Pet. 5:8). Satan knows that
he can devour only the weak and inattentive. We must sleep not, but be
whole-hearted toward the Son. To love Jesus with all our heart means to be
about His Father’s business with all our heart as Jesus was whole-hearted toward His Father’s business.
Paul exemplified for the Philippian
Christians what he meant by working out our salvation with fear and trembling.
“Yea doubtless, and I count
all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung,
that I may win Christ.” (Phil. 3:8). Remaining on the path to eternity with Jesus was very serious business to Paul. The great apostle had seen and read in scripture of so many
who had shipwrecked along the way to heaven. Once saved not necessarily always saved, and Paul knew it. “We become partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). So Paul
allowed nothing and no one to become an idol to him. He feared and obeyed the first and second
commandments: he had no other gods before the one true God; and he would not bow his heart and mind to worship any man or anything that man has made. Worship means supreme love and loyalty. Worshipping anyone or anything more than God is blasphemy.
We all must follow Paul’s example as he followed Christ’s example of excellence.
Idolatry is pervasive in these last days. Jesus warned us, “When the Son of man
cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). All who cry for help to the great Judge of all the earth Jesus gladly rewards. They have been in great
need, and He gives them the desires of their heart, “after that ye have
suffered a while.” (1Pet. 5:10). “Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry
day and night unto Him, though He bear
long with them
?” (Luke 18:7). But, when great, desperate need has ground self out of
them and they patiently keep His commandments while waiting before Him, then He pours His Spirit upon them and their cup runneth over.
He has tried them and they come forth as gold. They faithfully sought His help and He comes through for them. He is a shield and exceeding great reward
“to them who by patient
continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality.” (Rom. 2:7; Gen. 15:1).
Self-denial, renunciation of
service to earthly things or people above service to God, attend all who take
seriously the heaven to win and the hell to shun. And He happily shares our service to Him with those around us. Service to God first and then service to those beside us are our protection from the deceptions of Satan.
There is a real adversary in
the world, whose armies subtly woo Christians away from their everlasting
Father and Prince of Peace. Paul was fully aware of the demons’ subtleties and
smooth whisperings. The stimulating foods and sweet desserts, the fine fashions
and pride, all dilute our need and appreciation for the Father and Son. Ambition and success,
even religious success, rob us of Their Spirit. “Concerning zeal, persecuting
the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law” (Phil.
3:6), Paul said he had exceeded all his peers. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for
Christ.” (Phil. 3:7).
Do we have idols, objects of
our love and praise that cause us to fall into sin? Will we “count them but
dung, that [we] may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8)? We must! Or we will fail at Christ’s return! Aren’t all those competitors of the God of love nothing but putrid refuse, repulsive and revolting? “Ye shall defile also the covering of thy
graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou
shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee
hence.” (Isa. 30:22).
Righteousness and obedience to the Law and
will of God are not bondage if we repent of our idolatry and renounce it in
order to win Jesus
. Knowing Jesus and His Father better must be the only motive for our obedience, otherwise
our dress, our diet, et cetera, are all filthy rags. We will be walking naked and heaven will see our shame. Our own righteousness is
self-righteousness; and it will be drudgery, true bondage. All who create their own clean heart and
develop their own righteous life are not under grace because they are not
striving to have the Son and to trust in His gracious righteousness.
“And be found in Him, not
having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through
the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may
know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might
attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil. 3:9-11).
“Whosoever will lose his life
for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25). This is how we work out our own
salvation—for Jesus’ sake. To know Him, to have fellowship with His
sufferings, losing everything in the world that has been the source of our life will
give us a clear need to have Jesus as our source of life. The beauty of His grace and truth will come into
view and His voice will be heard in our heart and mind.
He continually added to His faith virtue, and to His virtue knowledge, and to His knowledge temperance, to His temperance patience, and to His patience godliness, to His godliness brotherly kindness, and to His brotherly kindness love.
“For if these things be in
you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful
in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ
…. For so an entrance shall be
ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2Pet. 1:8,11).
As we give up all to meet Jesus, losing the things and
people that we have used to provide us a spark of life, Jesus will be the
doorway through which the Father can send the riches of His glorious eternal Spirit.
“In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No
external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is
left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the
soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul
. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but
when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a
power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the
divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in
fulfilling the will of God.” Desire of
, p. 466.
If we have fallen at His feet
for His forgiveness and received His Spirit of reconciliation, then we will
continue on the upward path by throwing out everything “that exalteth itself
against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the
obedience of Christ.” (2Cor. 10:5).
“He which hath begun a good
work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6), “for it
is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil.