“Therefore, my beloved, as you 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 who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”.
Most of us have heard of or encountered someone who was a member of a cult. Cults today are more numerous than ever before, just as Jesus prophesied would be the case in the Last Days. What exactly is a cult and why is a group considered to be a cult? Here is a basic answer: A cult is a group whose beliefs focus on a specific doctrine or teaching at the exclusion or perversion of the entire content of the Word of God.
For example, one group might focus on a particular passage regarding salvation, but do so at the exclusion of the full counsel of God as found in all of Scripture. Another group will strictly adhere to man-made rules and regulations, then twist the Scriptures to support their designed control or lordship over their followers.
We might be tempted to roll our eyes or shake our heads at these people as though we are somehow better than they are. However, we need to be careful because as Bible believing Christians, we too can create our own aberrant thinking that can justify an emotionally charged point of view. An example could be shown in the verse stated above: “Therefore, my beloved, as you 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 who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
What stands out to you in this verse? For many, it’s the exhortation to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” With that in mind, one might go about trying to be a better person, trying to pray longer and trying much harder to be a good Christian. Now, that all sounds good, but not if you’re doing those things to obtain salvation.
We must read the entire verse to learn the full counsel of God. The verse continues on, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Is this a contradiction? How can I work out my own salvation while God is the One working at it also? Whose efforts win ̶ mine or His? The answer is found in the verses themselves. The words “work out” mean to cultivate, nurture and to provide every opportunity for the things that support salvation. Secondly, the words “fear and trembling” mean to have a heart of reverence and awe, which provides a clear understanding of my limitations of any action to try and save myself. This brings about a self-distrust or weariness of self. In other words, I can’t trust myself to save myself.
When I realize that, I rejoice in verse thirteen, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Now we can understand the full meaning! I am to yield to God for my salvation rather than lean on myself. My work, so to speak, is to keep myself out of the way while He’s at work within me. As I daily surrender, He is free to be about His business and work in my life.
This trust in Him is awesome and soul-searching, but the question remains: Are you allowing God to be the Lord of your salvation or are you still trying to help Him by saving yourself? Be very careful to read the entire Word of God and keep it all in context or else you too could fall into a cult-like thinking and miss the full counsel of God.
– Pastor Jack
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