Working Out Your Salvation

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A famous bodybuilder once said, "Health and fitness is who I am. It's what I do." Well, what about you? Where do health and fitness rank on your list of priorities?

In order to be fit, working out is a necessary component. Likewise, if your soul has been saved through faith in Christ, then it is incumbent upon you to "work out your salvation" by living everyday for the Lord. A person can only work out his salvation if he has actually received this free gift from God.

"The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8,9)

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A believer receives God's "indescribable gift" (2 Cor. 9:15) at the moment of conversion, and this fills a person's heart with thanksgiving and praise. New believers immediately begin to work out their salvation through a variety of spiritual exercises and disciplines. There is a desire to pray and to start feeding your soul with the Word of God. (1 Peter 2:2) A Christian also begins living for others rather than just for yourself. Simply put, you start to do things God's way out of your love for the Lord.

"We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

The Holy Spirit within the believer leads us to take our life of discipleship seriously. No wonder the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi: "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Phil. 2:12,13)

Paul never instructed Christians to doubt their salvation, but rather, to cherish it with all earnestness. "Fear and trembling" is a reference to the holy awe and respect that a Christian should always have for the Lord. The opposite approach would be to take the whole thing lightly, or even to be flippant about it. Such an irreverent approach would be highly offensive to the Lord. After all, our Savior suffered and died for our sins and is worthy of the highest respect in everything we do.

John Piper said, "A godly life is lived out of an astonished heart — a heart that is astonished at grace."

Working out your salvation is much different than attempting to "work for" salvation. It is impossible to do enough to earn salvation. This is why Christ left heaven and came to earth as our Redeemer. He earned what we were incapable of earning for ourselves.

"We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10) We have been justified by the blood of Jesus, (Romans 5:9) and God now sees me "just if I'd" never sinned.

Believers in Jesus place their trust in what Christ did for us on the cross. And when you rely upon His sacrifice rather than your own works, you are given the gift of everlasting life in heaven.

Some people rely upon the Law in hopes of earning their salvation, while others rely upon the Gospel. One approach is effective, while the other is deadly. "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse." (Gal. 3:10) Paul also wrote, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing." (Gal. 2:21)

Man's pride leads him to assume he can work his way into God's good graces. But man is foolishly mistaken to make this erroneous assumption. Christ died because it was the only way we could be saved, period. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Your works, or Christ's work on the cross? Which of these two paths leads a person into heaven, and which of these two options brings a person into an eternal relationship with the Lord of the universe?

You cannot exercise without a body, and you cannot work out your salvation unless you are already saved, redeemed, born again, justified and forgiven. Only then can you work out the salvation God gives to every believer.

Would you like to receive this free gift from God? If so, you will need to repent of any "works righteousness" by which you are trying to build your own little bridge to heaven. Throw in the towel on that deadly approach. It will never save your soul, but only keep you separated from the One who loves you so much He died to save you from your sins.

The good news is that Christ already built the bridge when He laid down His life on the cross. (1 John 3:16)

And if you have been justified through faith, then be sure to appreciate your salvation everyday. If you find yourself starting to take your salvation for granted, confess your sin of spiritual apathy to God. He will breathe upon you once again with His life-giving power and grace.

God not only saved you by grace through faith, but the Lord also "works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Phil. 2:13) We owe everything to Christ because Jesus is our life, our King, and our salvation. It would be utter foolishness to take God's amazing grace for granted.

Perhaps you spend hours every week exercising your body. If so, good job. But what about your soul, and what about your salvation? Are you as a believer in Jesus Christ working it out, or neglecting to maintain healthy spiritual disciplines?

A Christian disciple without spiritual disciplines doesn't look much like a New Testament believer. Followers of Christ work out their salvation through godly living and a vibrant relationship with Christ. And healthy Christians hunger and thirst for the Word of God and prayer.

Scripture declares, "Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." (1 Timothy 4:8)

So be encouraged as you "press on" (Phil. 3:14) in your faith as a follower of Jesus. The Lord will be your strength every step of the way, (Psalm 28:7; Phil. 4:13) and your daily workouts will definitely result in a healthier you.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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