Working Out Our Salvation by Grace – H.Hoeksema

What then does it mean to work out our own salvation?

Salvation, as you know, is the deliverance from all evil, from the guilt and dominion of sin and corruption, and from the power of death, and the being made heirs and partakers of the highest good, namely, eternal righteousness, life, and glory in God’s heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who was delivered for our transgressions, and raised for our justification. Of this salvation the saints of Philippi and all believers are partakers. They are redeemed by the blood of Christ; they possess the forgiveness of sin; and the imputed and perfect righteousness of God in Christ; they are implanted in the Savior and partake of all His benefits by faith; they are reborn children of God; they are called out of darkness into the marvelous light of God, translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. That is “their own salvation.”

But this salvation they must work out. They must let that gift and power of salvation serve the purpose for which it was freely bestowed upon them. They must bring that glorious gift of salvation by grace to manifestation in their whole life. In their entire walk, and that, too, in the midst of the world that lies in darkness, they must reveal themselves as those who have been delivered from the dominion of sin and liberated unto righteousness. From the principle of their new life in Christ Jesus they must live in every walk of life, representing the cause of the Son of God in the world. Thus the salvation that was wrought within them will be worked out by them. In this they are imitators of God, as dear children.

This does not mean that they must now work for the improvement of this present world, which is quite impossible. They need not and they cannot “turn the world upside down.” Nor does it mean that they must all be busy in a special sense in the work of the Lord. We do not all have to be preachers or missionaries, or bring souls to Christ, or be elder or deacon in the church, or Sunday-school teacher, in order to cause our salvation to reach its purpose and to reach the end for which it was given unto us. On the contrary, the mother in her home and in the midst of her children, the father in his place of work, whatever it may be, the clerk behind the counter, the cobbler at his bench, every one in his own position and calling, will work out his own salvation when in that calling, and with his whole soul and mind and heart and strength he serves the Lord Christ and lives through faith from the principle of the regenerated life that has been wrought in his inmost heart. To let the light that is within us shine that our Father which is in heaven may be glorified – that it is to work out our own salvation. That this is, indeed, the meaning of this exhortation is evident from what follows it: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (verses 14, 15)

You may, perhaps, remark that there is no need for an exhortation of this kind, seeing that when God works His grace in our hearts, we will naturally and spontaneously work it out and walk in sanctification of life. And there is truth in that statement. But, in the first place, we must always remember that God deals with us as His rational and moral children, and that the working out of our salvation is, therefore, a matter of obedience to His Word. “As obedient children,” writes the apostle Peter, “not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy.” (I Peter 1: 14-16) It is Christ Who bears fruit in us when we work out our own salvation, even as the vine bears fruit through the branches; and we have nothing to boast in ourselves. But we bear this fruit, too, with joy and delight, and enjoy the privilege of being His co-workers. Hence, the Word of God treats us as God’s free and obedient children and as such addresses us: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Besides, let us not forget that as long as we are in this life and in this world, we are in constant need of hearing this word and of being reminded of our calling, of being admonished and encouraged in the good fight of faith. For we must walk as children of light and manifest the salvation of God in the midst of a world that lies in darkness. And that is not easy for the flesh. It will cause us suffering. Even as the world hated Christ, so it will hate us, if we are only faithful in working out our own salvation. For in doing so, we must needs judge the work and condemn its unfruitful works of darkness. And then, let us not forget that we have not attained to the final perfection. We carry the salvation of God in the body of this death. The old man, the sinful flesh, is always present with us. And it is always tempting us, especially when we must suffer the reproach of Christ, rather to hide our own salvation than to work it out, and to compromise and amalgamate ourselves with the evil world. That, in fact, is the great sin of those who are called believers, saints, in our day. We are more and more putting on another yoke with the unbeliever, and it appears as if there is considerable concord between Christ and Belial. Light and darkness seem to merge into the dreary gray of the fog of worldliness, in which no one discerns the direction in which he is going. We are seeking the things below rather than those that are above. We have forgotten the words of the Lord Jesus that he that shall save his life shall lose it, but he that shall lose it shall save it unto life eternal. We are in sore need, therefore, of hearing and heeding the Word of God: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Quoted from chapter 10, “Working Out Our Salvation by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.84-87.

Published in: on June 12, 2021 at 8:41 PM  Leave a Comment  

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