"Your Own Salvation"

Philippians 2:12‑13  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
J. T. Mawson
We were sitting in a room where played a little baby boy; he had just begun to walk and talk, and was putting his new found powers to the test. As he tremblingly ran from one chair to another, we heard him say to himself, “Mind the fender, C.” A careful mother had warned him of the danger that lurked just there, and he was now repeating her warning to himself, and so working out his own salvation in respect to it.
God has warned us, in His word, as to where the dangers lie, and as we keep His word in mind, and are obedient to it, we too work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. “Concerning the works of men, by the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer” (Psa. 17:44Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. (Psalm 17:4)).
But not only are we preserved from danger by the wholesome fear of it, but also by the attraction of something greater and better than the temptation presented. In ancient Greek mythology we read of the Sirens, beautiful in voice, but malignant in soul. They lived by the sea, and sang their sweetest songs as the ships sailed by, in order to lure the mariners to destruction on their treacherous shore.
When the Argonauts set sail for Pontus in search of the Golden Fleece, they knew that they must pass this point of danger, and that they might not be turned from their purpose by the seductive songs of the Sirens, they induced Orpheus, the greatest poet and singer of those mythical times, to accompany them.
Every day of that voyage he poured forth his most enchanting strains in the ears of those sailors, so that when they came to the point of danger the Sirens sang in vain, the Argonauts passed them with contempt — for the charm of the inferior music had been broken by the sweeter strains that filled their ears.
It is thus that God works in His grace. Christ is presented to us in all that wonderful charm that has won our hearts, and with the eye and heart filled with His surpassing beauty, our souls are proof against the false glamour which only attracts to destroy. The same holy Word of God which warns us of danger around, also unveils for us the excellencies of Christ.
But this passage is often used as though it meant work for salvation. This is altogether wrong, for Scripture cannot contradict itself, and there we read, “By grace are ye saved... not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:7-87That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:7‑8)).
The passage supposes that there is that within — life, nature and power — by the exercise of which we are preserved in the path of God’s pleasure; and this is only found in those who have been saved by the grace of God.
When in the Transvaal, we went down into one of the gold mines there, and saw the quartz being worked out from the bowels of the earth; then presently we saw the bars of yellow metal all ready for shipment for the English mint. The gold was there in the mine first of all, but it had to be worked out to be of profit to the owners. So it is with us who believe, there must be exercise, and diligence, and work, so that that which God has placed within us may be worked out for His praise and glory.
But only a gold mine can produce gold, you would work in vain for it in any other mine. And so it is only the truly saved person who can work out salvation.
But there is still a point of greatest importance in the passage, which must not be overlooked; “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” We have no power in ourselves naturally (a great deal of the disappointment in the lives of Christians is because this is overlooked), but God works in both the will and the energy. As some mighty electric-dynamo supplies the factory with the force needful for the production of that for which it was erected, so God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, works in us His will and way, so that we may follow the Lord wholly, and give pleasure to Him who has bought us at so great a cost.
Our place is to obey Him, to yield ourselves to Him alone, having no confidence in the flesh.