Salvation in – salvation out

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:12-13).

Is the Christian life essentially a matter of passive trust or an active obedience? Is it all God’s doing? All the believer’s doing? Or perhaps a combination of both … 50/50? 

If I would ask you who wrote the book of Romans, how would you respond? As a Christian you might be tempted to answer quickly: “Apostle Paul, of course!” , but then you realise that it was God, through the Holy Spirit who inspired Paul to write it.

Well, the correct answer is: it was 100% God and 100% Paul.  Or what if I would ask: Who lives your Christian life? One answer could be: “I live it!” But then you quickly realise that without God’s help you won’t be able do it (John 15:5). The other answer would be: “God lives my life!” but…you don’t want to blame God for all your mishaps and sins.

Again, the correct answer is: 100% God and 100% you.

Writing to the Corinthians Apostle Paul describes his status and his Christian life this way: “…by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect” but “…I worked harder  than all of them, yet  not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1Cor.15:10).

In Colossians 1:29 he makes the same point “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me”.

God’s grace and power undergirds the faithful and obedient effort of believers. This effort must be seen and understood not as a way of earning God’s favour and hence our salvation but rather as a result of what God has already done in our hearts. The genuineness of our faith is seen in the way we live our daily lives: living without grumbling and arguing (Phil 2:14).