How should we define salvation? If we think of salvation as merely being redeemed by the blood of Jesus and secured a place in heaven, then we mock the greater intent. Salvation from sin is a continual, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives Who gives us the power to live free from our past lives and to embrace the newness of life as spoken by the Apostle Paul (II Corinthians 5:17). We must daily strive to enter into the fullness of what Christ has given us through His death, burial, and resurrection. It is not our heritage as sons and daughters of the Most High God to remain the same. Indeed, He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). With that gift comes the responsibility to work out what He has worked in those who call themselves "redeemed." If we call ourselves Christians, it is our destiny to first embrace the salvation He has granted, and then to allow it to permeate every area of our lives. While this may be simple in concept, it is often not easy in application. True, it is relatively straightforward to love those who love us. But what of those who despitefully use or abuse us? On these occasions, we are confronted by our inability to love, and are more apt to behave quite the opposite from that of our Savior.
For someone to say that all we need to do is confess that we are Christ's children in order to love those who hate us, have missed an important lesson regarding working out our salvation toward sanctification. To simply say, "I love all people because Christ is in me" is naive and unrealistic in respect to the reality. I can repeat over and over again that I love someone who slanders me, yet if I don't possess that love toward them, then my confession is flawed. What is often needed is an "act of love" to reinforce the confession toward this unseemly person. To say that we love someone and then to do nothing to show otherwise is an empty gesture. Proverbs tells us that ... "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) This is a demonstration of how the confession of love becomes an act of love. The Apostle James calls this dynamic putting works with your faith. (James 2:20) If we believe that Christ has given us His love, then we should be acting it out. Too often, I believe that many Christians don't really believe that Jesus has given them "all things in the Beloved" for their actions deny their confession. If they truly believed that all things godly were theirs, doesn't it make sense that they would be living out their reality? Instead, many continue in their old way of thinking and acting, letting their unregenerate self rule their existence. They lack the understanding or the revelation that God lives within them. For many, they lethargically believe that their Christian life is "okay" and that there is no reason to attempt anything different. These don't see a need to cry to God for His Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that would reveal who they truly are in Christ, and how they should be acting out the precious gift of salvation to others. (Ephesians 1:17-19)
In his writings, Paul's desire was for all to understand who they were in God's Son, even as Jesus knew who He was in His Father. Paul spoke the words for the Philippians to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling" only after giving them the model of how Christ Jesus accomplished this in the previous verses. In verse seven of Philippians chapter two, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ emptied Himself of His Deity, taking on the flesh of man. In so doing, He denied Himself the limitless power of God and chose instead to understand who He was, and how He was to act. Jesus understood, through divine revelation, who it was that lived within Him. However, He still needed to WORK OUT that relationship to the world at large. His life became that of the REVELATION of God within Him, the INSPIRATION of what God could do through Him, and finally the DIVINE COMMISSIONING to work out the Father's salvation to a lost and dying world. By perfectly drawing upon the grace that His Father provided to Him in earthly flesh, He perfectly moved in the exact representation of His Father's will while on earth. Therefore, God highly exalted Him once again to His place in the eternal Godhead.
While we will never achieve Christ's perfect submission to the Father, we are commissioned to look to Jesus as our role model regarding salvation. God has given us the Divine Nature, the very Spirit that dwelt in Christ Jesus, to reign in our mortal bodies. It is therefore our spiritual duty to "empty ourselves" of the old nature and to work out salvation in both our lives and those around us. It is not enough to know that Jesus has justified us according to His work on Calvary. We must keep coming to Him, seeking Him to fill us with His enduing power as we empty ourselves of our past, carnal life. Only as we give ourselves to Him in perfect submission, can we be equipped to work out the salvation He has so graciously given. Faith without works, beloved, are inseparable. We must understand that God has given us all power through the cross of Christ. It is our highest duty to act like Christians, and to allow His Spirit to work through us. Without Christ's demonstration of His Person in our lives, can we truly claim to be His? May God give us His wisdom in this and much more!
Heavenly Father, help us to work the works of Jesus by demonstrating His love through us. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit be manifested through lives that are emptied, intent on working out salvation both in our hearts and lives and those of others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,