Philippians: Working Out Your Own Salvation (excerpt)

The salvation in 2:12 is not salvation from the condemnation of God or from hell. Rather, salvation here refers to the salvation we experience day by day. In particular, it is salvation from murmurings and reasonings. In verse 14 Paul says, “Do all things without murmurings and reasonings.” We need an instant salvation to deliver us from our murmurings and reasonings.

We have seen that, as our pattern, Christ emptied Himself and humbled Himself and also was exalted and glorified by God. Sisters, do you think that while you are murmuring, God will come in to exalt you? Brothers, do you believe that while you are reasoning, God will come in to glorify you? Surely God will not exalt us or glorify us when we are murmuring or reasoning. Oh, we need salvation from murmurings and reasonings!

Both murmurings and reasonings are signs of rebellion and disobedience. In verse 12 Paul says that the Philippians “have always obeyed.” We also need to obey—to obey Christ as our pattern. As the One who became our pattern, the Lord Jesus did not murmur or reason. Instead, He emptied Himself and humbled Himself. Now we must obey this pattern, realizing that Christ does not murmur or reason, but empties Himself and humbles Himself. This obedience is the working out of our salvation. Whenever we obey Christ as our pattern, we automatically work out our salvation from our murmurings and reasonings.

Christians often ask others if they have been saved. When I was asked this question as a young man, I answered strongly that I had been saved. But if I were asked this question today, I would reply, “What do you mean by ‘saved’? If you mean saved from God’s judgment and from the lake of fire, I most assuredly have been saved. However, if you mean saved from reasonings, I would have to admit that I have been saved in part, but not yet in full.”

The salvation here is not the salvation we have received once for all. On the contrary, it is the salvation which we need to work out in order to be rescued daily from our weaknesses. We have pointed out that this salvation is Christ as our pattern. Hence, the pattern and the salvation are one. The pattern is the salvation, and the salvation is the pattern worked out in us.