Human Responsibility and Divine Sovereignty
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12)
Have you ever wondered why some people make an alleged commitment to Christ and are transformed seemingly overnight? They go out and buy the biggest Bible they can find and start carrying it around. They show up at every service at church. They sing louder and lift their hands higher in worship than everyone. They talk to everyone they know about Jesus.
Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they appear to have simply given up. Why does that happen?
God has saved us, but then we have our part. Philippians 2:12 tells us, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This verse is often misunderstood. Notice it doesn’t say, “Work for your own salvation.” We can’t work for it; it is a gift of God. Rather, this verse says, “Work out your own salvation” (emphasis added). The term work out could be better translated, “Carry it to the goal and complete. . . .” The idea being conveyed is that of going into a mine for gold. You get all the gold out of the mine that you can.
Verse 13 of Philippians 2 goes on to say, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” It is all there: human responsibility and divine sovereignty. We are to carry it to the goal and complete it, but it’s God who is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
There is our part and there is God’s part. What we need every day is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God wants to fill us again and again with the Holy Spirit, because the only way we can make it as Christians is with the daily help of the Holy Spirit.