12 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. 13 For
it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his
There are two types of salvation taught in the scriptures.
There is eternal salvation which is by the grace of God
alone. Included in eternal salvation is salvation from the
condemnation of sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Then
there is salvation from the bondage of sin by the work of
the Holy Spirit in causing someone to be born of the
Spirit. Additionally, there is salvation from corruption
which will be brought to fruition in the resurrection of the
dead at the second coming of Christ.
In addition to eternal salvation, the scriptures teach
timely salvations often dependent on the works or actions of
the born-again child of God. Included in these timely
salvations is salvation from a condemning heart that is
brought about by believing the true gospel of Jesus Christ,
repentance, and water baptism. Moreover, there is salvation
from ignorance of the truth of eternal salvation by the
grace of God. This salvation is brought about by hearing
the truth and believing the truth. Additionally, there is
salvation from a false works system of eternal salvation.
This salvation is brought about by hearing and believing the
truth and turning from the false works systems.
Another timely salvation is salvation from death of
fellowship. This salvation is brought about by repentance.
Also, God providentially saves people from circumstances
they often find themselves in. Often, this providential
salvation follows the effectual fervent prayer of the
righteous, but not always. Moreover, the scriptures teach
that we can save ourselves from an untoward generation.
This salvation involves how we live our lives.
Those to whom Paul was writing in the verses above were told
to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
The question before us is which salvation is under
consideration. Was it an eternal salvation or a timely
salvation? If it was a timely salvation, then which timely
salvation is under consideration?
We will begin by showing that it is not an eternal
salvation, rather those to whom Paul was writing were by
many evidences already born-again children of God. The
evidences that they were already born-again children of God
are as follows:
1. First, Paul
addressed this epistle to the "saints in Christ Jesus which
are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons…" It is
apparent that Paul was addressing this epistle to the church
at Philippi. A church is composed of born-again baptized
believers in Christ.
2. Second, Paul
refers to those addressed as "beloved." The word, beloved,
comes from a Greek word, agapetos. This means dearly
loved. This is not an appellation that Paul would use for
those who have not been born of the Spirit of God.
3. Third, Paul says
that those whom he addressed are obedient to the faith.
They were obedient both when Paul was present with them and
also were obedient when Paul was absent from them. The only
ones who can be obedient to the faith are born-again
children of God. According to 1 Cor. 2:14, "But the natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because
they are spiritually discerned." Thus, the natural man
cannot know or obey the faith that was once delivered to the
4. The ones to whom
Paul addressed this passage were capable of fear. Thus,
they were born of the spirit of God for the natural man "has
no fear of God before his eyes."
5. God had already
worked a work within the hearts of those that Paul addressed
for we read, For it is God which worketh in you both to
will and to do of his good pleasure. The desire (will) and
the ability (to do) God had already worked in the hearts of
those Paul was writing to.
Because of the above reasons, we can conclude that the
salvation under consideration in the above passage is not
eternal salvation. Thus, the type of salvation under
consideration must be a timely salvation that is dependant
on the actions of God's obedient children.
The ones to whom Paul wrote were already members of the
church at Philippi. This helps us to narrow down which
timely deliverance is under consideration. These already
believed in eternal salvation by the grace of God alone.
Therefore, they did not need to be saved from ignorance or
from going about trying to establish their own
righteousness. Second, since they were all obedient to the
faith, they did not need to be delivered from death to
fellowship. Since, they had already believed on Christ and
been baptized, they did not need to be delivered from a
condemning heart. Further, the text precludes consideration
of a providential salvation.
The timely deliverance under consideration is salvation from
an untoward generation. We read in Acts 2:40 Peter taught
on the day of Pentecost: "And with many other words did he
testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this
An untoward generation allures, entices, teaches, pressures,
and sets traps to entangle God's people into living a life
contrary to the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. There
are many, many traps for God's people such as drugs,
alcohol, fornication, adultery, pornography, theft, lies,
filthy language, unforgiveness, false worship, blasphemy,
and numerous other works of the flesh. When Paul wrote to
the church at Philippi encouraging them to work out their
own salvation with fear and trembling, he was testifying to
them that they were to work at living as the disciples of
Jesus Christ and thus saving themselves from the snares and
pitfalls of this untoward generation.
God had already worked within them to
will and to do of his good pleasure. The work
that was done in the new or spiritual birth gave the people
both the desire to worship and serve the Lord and the
ability to carry forth in their lives the true worship and
service of God. God puts the desire and ability in the
heart, but God's spirit born children must work it out in
their lives. God does not work it out for us. Verses 1
through 16 of this chapter gives us rich instructions on how
we can work out this salvation from an untoward generation.