“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.”
(Philippians 2:12 KJV)
Some are teaching that it is our works that keep us saved based on this one passage. Apostle Paul stated this verse in his writings. To believe this is to ignore the other teaching passages of Paul in total opposition. We cannot take this one verse completely out of context to make it mean we need to work to keep ourselves saved.
We must consider other passages by Apostle Paul. Think for a moment and ask yourself how this passage means we need to work to keep our Salvation when just previously in Philippians 1:6 Paul says that it is God who keeps us saved?
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6 KJV)
Passages by Apostle Paul that state Salvation is not of ourselves, nor by our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9) and Ephesians 1:13-14 that show us that a person is saved eternally from the very moment of BELIEF on Jesus Christ and actually SEALED by the Holy Spirit forever from that moment. And then there is 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 where Paul again states clearly a person is saved from the moment of belief.
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Also, what about Jesus’ own words in John 3: 15-18 where He repeats often to strongly emphasize that Salvation is by BELIEF on Christ with no mention of anything else?
The passage in Phillipians 2:12 does not mean we work to keep our Salvation. Context matters and so what is Paul teaching in this passage?
It is teaching that we cannot take any credit for our Salvation. Look what Jesus did for us! He is God who lowered Himself below rank of an Angel (Hebrews 2:7) and shed His own blood to save us. Humble to an enormous amount, yes? Well, if Jesus was that humble then how humble before God in respect should we be? Salvation is God’s unmerited favor for us! The amazing Grace of God!
In fact, look what is being taught to us by Paul as we continue reading the very next verse:
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phillipians 2:13 KJV)
Do you see echoes of Jesus talking in John 15?
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5 KJV)
We need to be humble! With respect and acknowledge that we can do nothing without God working through us. We need to understand this and not be too proud of our own self righteous efforts. Instead we should move forward in faith, in our weakness, knowing it is all by God working through us.