1 Peter 2:12
"Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak of you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."
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;
Peter speaks very clearly that obedience is key in all of life's situations, especially when we are not being watched. It's relatively easy to obey when we're in the presence of others because to blatantly sin would say we have now regard for them, God or ourselves.
This past Sunday we spent time primarily with the later part of verse 12 of Philippians 2; "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Key words of this chapter that must be defined before we analyze this verse are:
Work - The Greek term used for work is Katergazamai which means to work fully, accomplish, to finish, fashion, cause, do or perform
Salvation - The Greek term used for salvation is Soteria which means deliverance, health, safety and rescue.
Fear - The Greek term used for fear in this context is Phobos which comes from the Greek term Phebomai which means to be put in fear, alarm, or fright - be afraid, exceedingly
Trembling - The Greek term used for trembling is Tromos which means quaking with fear.
Having an understanding of these key words is paramount to discerning what Peter is referencing regarding working our our own salvation.
We know that faith without works is dead in James' writings. We read in the scripture that we have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast in Ephesians. We read in 2 Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear.
With this past understanding does what Peter say about working out our own salvation contradict the other scriptures previously mentioned?
Well first of all we must keep things in their proper context.
1. James is clear that we just can't have faith and not have a corresponding action to demonstrate our faith.
2. Reading verse 10 in Ephesians chapter 2 makes it also clear that we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
3. In the book of 2 Timothy the word fear is not used the same way as it is in Philippians. It actually means timidity. Timothy is saying God has not given us a spirit of timidity.
With clarification that the scripture does not contradict itself, I invite you to join in as we take look at Philippians 2:12.
The question is how...
The answer is found in James 1:19-27 - I'll just cover a few verses here. James 1:19 says "Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;"
1. The first key is being obedient is being swift to hear
2. The second key is being slow to speak
3. The third key is being slow to wrath (anger)
James further goes on to say, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (verse 22)
Being a doer of the word in the case of Philippians 2:12 would be to "work" More specifically it would be to work fully, accomplish, to finish, to fashion, to cause, to do or to perform.
A few ways to say "work out salvation" might look like this - to work fully on one's deliverance, to accomplish safe passage, to finish healthy, to cause to be rescued.
Remember the Greek term Soteria above? There is another word in Greek, Soter which means a deliverer ie; God or Christ , Savior - Ultimate deliverance comes from God, Christ, Savior
The the Ultimate deliverer/Soter provides salvation/Soteria to us who believe and we're to work it out.
An example of working out our salvation in reference to deliverance, safety and rescue would be
found in Psalm 91 - take a moment to read it...
An example of working out our salvation in reference to health would be Proverbs 17:22 having a merry heart. The scripture says it does good like a medicine.
The word is chalked with examples of how we work out our salvation. As Christians we know that God renders to each man according to his deeds. So work in reference to us working out our salvation is not a challenge.
Where the challenge to believers might come in is found in the later part of Philippians 2:12 where it says how to work out our salvation - "with fear and trembling." These two words cannot be trivialized. If we pay strict attention to them, that means we have to become a doer of this word also and not just a hearer.
The writer is plain in his speech. He starts with fear and connects it with an even stronger word that is associated with fear - trembling.
Looking back to the definition we have to conclude that God intends us to work out our salvation in a specific way. We actually have a prescription.
But the question is, "Is this prescription for us today?"
We'll continue next time with verse Philippians 2:13 and tie all of this back to 1 Peter 2:12
Pastor Cedric Reynolds
CentrePoint Christian Fellowship
6251 Schaefer Avenue
Chino, CA 91710
We meet Sunday's @ 10:00 a.m.