God promises that you will work out your salvation
Philippians 2:12-16Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—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.Do everything without complaining or arguing,so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universeas you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
What does it mean when Paul says we are to work out our salvation? Does this mean we can lose it? Is it not free after all? Rest assured that it does not mean we can lose our salvation or that it’s not free. Our salvation was freely given to us, but many seem to look at their salvation as though it is like a free ticket to heaven. They get their ticket, put it in safe place where it sits until the day they die when they figure they will get it out and use it. That is not how it works however.
Over the years I’ve given my children many gifts. Some of the gifts were things like Lego’s. When they got the lego’s, they didn’t empty out the box and sit and look at them, expecting the lego’s to jump into place on their own. They spent hours buildiing all kinds of great things with their legos. The legos were free, but they required work in order for them to be of any use at all. This is very similar to what our salvation is like.
When we become saved, the Lord gives us a new spirit and we become a new creation. We die to our old self and now have the “new self”. The question then is what are we going to do with that “new self”, that new creation? For many the answer is, nothing at all. They seem to think that their new self should just automatically be able to know everything and do everything needed. They wonder why their life hasn’t changed much. They probably go to church every Sunday and think that is all that God ever expects from them. So when things get tough, they may even fall away because God didn’t work for them. They fail to realize that the legos aren’t going to jump into position and make themselves into new and greater creations. They fail to realize that they must work out their salvation, just as the child has to pick up the individual legos and connect them together and keep at it until his creation is complete.
While our salvation is assured from the moment we’re saved, we cannot partake or experience all the great things that the Lord has in store for us if we are not doing our part. The passage above gives us some clues as to what “our part” is in this. The very first one that tends to catch our eye is the world “obeyed”. Paul reminds them that just as they always have, they must continue to obey God. We are told that we are to put into practise in our daily lives the things God shows us and works in us. We are to cultivate and grow the things He gives us and works in us. We need to be reading His Word and reflecting on it daily as this is the food and drink that will cause us to grow. When Paul says we are to do this as we hold out the word of life, He means that as we grow we are to share our testimony and His Word with others and tell them how they too can be saved.
Our salvation then is secure, but it is also something which we need to work on. I like to think of it as a seedling that’s been planted. We need to water it, feed it, nurture it, and protect it so that it will grow. When we do that, then we are like shining stars in a dark world. What a wonderful way to think of how the light of Christ shines through us to reach others! Throughout this week we’ll continue to look at how God expects us to work out our salvation, what our part in this is; what happens when we do this, as well as what happens to those who don’t do this.
Romans 13:11-12 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
This week’s promise: God promises that you will work out your salvation
Philippians 3:10-16 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Paul makes several important points in the above passage that are helpful to us who are working out our salvation. I have posted a little “extra” here simply so we’ll be reading it in context. He starts out saying what all who are saved feel that he wants to really know Jesus closely and personally, through experience and not just “head knowledge”. He wants to know the power of His resurrection, which now dwells in us, sharing in His suffering and becoming more and more like Him in all ways. The text reads “becoming like him in his death”, but Paul isn’t saying that he wants to die like Christ did. The words “becoming like him” translate to mean “being transformed inwardly in one’s experience to something”. As Jesus died for sin, believers are to die to sin. We are to daily cut ourselves off from our old sinful ways, setting ourselves apart from them, and live our new lives by the power of Christ’s resurrection. This then is a very good description of what our “work” is and of how we are to “work out our salvation”.
Paul says He wants this and hopes that he will somehow be able to attain the resurrection from the dead. What he is actually referring to here is the rapture! Paul was hoping that he would still be alive when the rapture happened, and who can blame him? I think just about every believer ever born has hoped for that. I know I certainly do!
Basically in the above passage, Paul is listing his goals and ambitions, in the hope that others would understand better what the Lord was asking of them, and would imitate him. Knowing that many believers put him up on some kind of pedestal, Paul also lets them know that he hasn’t attained his goals yet, but is instead steadily working toward them which is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. He didn’t want people to read his words and think that it was all good and well for Paul to do these things because he was special or had more power or something. He was telling them that he was no different then anyone else, and that all should be working toward these goals.
Once he’s sure that we understand that we are all to work toward these things, he then tells us how to work toward them. First he says that he forgets what is past. This is no easy matter as most of us know. Satan is often bringing up our past to us and telling us how awful we are because of it. Paul is telling us that if we are going to be effective that we must not allow ourselves to get entangled with our pasts again. All of that is behind us; it’s over and done with and we’ve already been forgiven for it so there is no reason at all to be going over it in our minds any longer. Instead he says that we are to strain toward what is ahead for us, press on toward our goal. What is our goal? What is God’s goal for us? (they should be one and the same thing) Our goal, just as Paul said his goal was, is to be transformed so that we are becoming more and more like Jesus every day.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The Lord works this transformation in us as we work toward it by studying His Word, praying, and constantly cutting ourselves off from our old sinful ways, the ways of the world and living by the spirit in God’s Ways. The last thing Paul says is that all who are mature in Christ should have this viewpoint. This then is a mark of spiritual maturity and yet anther way we can tell if someone is still a baby Christian or if they are indeed working out their salvation and becoming mature as we are supposed to be doing. Paul even puts an end to any discussion about this, basically saying that this point isn’t negotiable and if they think differently that the Lord Himself would show them the truth of what he’s said. His last point is that if nothing else we should at the very least live up to what we have already attained.
What is it that we have “already attained”? Even a brand new baby Christian has attained salvation and knows the Truth that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life, and that they are a new creation and heaven bound. So even brand new Christians should at the very least be continuing on the narrow path of salvation, holding onto what they’ve already learned, applying it to their daily lives and always striving to learn more. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at what Paul says next. For today though let us all strive to press onward toward our goal of spiritual maturity.
This week’s promise: God promises that you will work out your salvation
Philippians 3:17-4:1 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Yesterday we looked at some of the basics of working out our salvation. Today we’ll look at how Paul ended this particular portion of advice to us. Remember, he had just told them that if they didn’t agree with him that God would make it clear to them, so he was quite sure of what he was saying. Of course today, knowing that this is part of God’s Word, we know that what he said is being said with the full authority of Christ behind it. He then finished by telling them to at least live up to what they had already attained.
Today’s portion begins with Paul saying that they should follow his example, as well as the example of the others who live according to the pattern of pursuing Christlikeness he has just given them. The next sentence comes as a bit of surprise, because Paul now tells us that the reason he wants us to live this way is because there are so many false teachers! Even back then this was a problem! We know that during our time this problem is even worse though simply because Jesus Himself told us it would constantly get worse until He comes to get us. Are you wondering if I’ve jumped to a conclusion thinking that these are false teachers? I wondered that myself so I had to do a little research. Paul talks about these same people here:
Romans 16:17-18 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
This verse alone makes it clear that they were masquerading as Christians. If they weren’t pretending to be Christians, then Paul would not have had to go to the trouble of warning us about them. Now Paul gives us some of the characteristics of a false teacher. He says first that their God is their belly, meaning they care more for their sensual appetites then for God. Second their glory is in their shame, meaning that they not only sinned but boasted about it when they did! Instead of being legalists like the judaizers, they went in the opposite direction and took their freedom in Christ to be a license to sin. Third, their minds are on earthly things, which is the exact opposite of what Christ commands us to do. Jesus has told us to set our hearts and minds on the things of heaven. Instead of having the mind of Christ, they thought like the world does. They had a secular worldview rather then a biblical worldview. We see a lot of that today! These people call themselves Christians, but the fruit of their lives condemns them and shows them for what they really are. Although they pretend to be religious, they really deny the cross, love the world and live after the flesh.
We can know for sure these people are not our brothers and sisters in Christ who have simply taken a wrong turn because Paul says that their destiny is destruction. All true Christians will live forever with the Lord, so these people are not backslidden Christians. As Paul says when he continues, our citizenship is in heaven, and we are eagerly waiting for Jesus to return for us. These other people are the total opposite. Oh they may say the same thing, but their lives don’t show it.
Obviously if we can tell a false teacher by the way they live their lives, we can also tell a true Christian by the way they live their lives. This is what Paul was talking about earlier. Our lives should be characterized by the things we discussed yesterday. We should be constantly pressing on towards our goal of being more like Jesus. When we do that, we will be doing the things that Paul discussed and our lives will show the fruit of that.
Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
When we look at the verse from Galatians which I’m sure we’re all familiar with, the one thing that often gets us confused is where it says that those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature. Often people think that means that we don’t sin, and we know that’s not true. What it actually means though is that those who belong to Christ, deny themselves. It’s not that we’re not tempted, it’s that when we are tempted we respond by denying ourselves which is crucifying the sinful nature—putting it to death. We don’t do that once, we do that constantly, over and over and over, every single day. That’s why the next line says, “since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit.”. He is encouraging us to continue to deny ourselves, to continue to crucify that sinful nature each time it rears it’s ugly head. The fruit of the spirit that Paul lists is what we exhibit in our lives when we are constantly pursuing the goal of being more like Christ. Let’s close today’s study with Paul’s words of encouragement:
Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
This week’s promise: God promises that you will work out your salvation
Philippians 4:2-9 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Today let us look at the rest of what Paul says about working out our salvation, picking up where we left off yesterday. The last words we read from him yesterday were that working out our salvation was what would enable us to stand firm in the Lord. Before we do go further though, I’d like to talk for a minute about what it means to stand firm in the Lord and why it is desirable for us to do so. Let’s look at another verse that talks about this:
Ephesians 4:13-15 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
It becomes clear from reading this that to “stand firm” is the opposite of “being blown here and there by every wind of teaching” Notice that in the above passage it also indicates that as we become spiritually mature we are able to stand firm, and that we become spiritually mature through knowledge of the son of God as we attain the fullness of Christ. We do this through the study of God’s Word, reflecting on it and through prayer.
Now let’s address the very first thing Paul talks about in today’s passage with also coincides with the other one I just posted. The first thing Paul says is that he wants two of his fellow workers to agree with each other. He is talking here about unity in the faith, just as he is in the first sentence of the passage from Ephesians. Remember the other day when he was talking to them he told them that if any of them disagreed with this teaching that the Lord would make it clear to them? It is similar here too. As far as the basics of our faith go, we are to agree with each other. Basics being things concerning our salvation and the Gospel. Something that is not basic would be for example, what color table cloth to use on their alter, or where people should sit, or if they should sit or stand for the blessing, etc. Notice something else too: Paul did not tell them which of them was right. He did not tell them to ask Peter or James or Mark or anyone else about which of them was right. The only directions he’s given anyone concerning when they are unsure is that the Lord will teach them the Truth. It appears from the context as well as from what Paul says about it earlier that these two are contending with each other over something that is not basic to our salvation. This is the other piece of advice he gives concerning this:
Philippians 2:1-5 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Here he advises them to remember their priorities and that they are to put the others interests above their own and be as servants like Jesus was. But where it concerned the Word of God, or doctrine, Paul told them that the Lord would make it clear to them. Paul knew that everyone grows at a different rate and that since everyone wasn’t saved at the exact same time, that each would be at a different stage in their spiritual walk. Therefore he knew there were bound to be differences in opinions, just as there are now and he asks us to help each other to remain united in the faith and not let differences separate us from each other.
Paul next tells us something that seems strange at first and even out of place. He says we are to rejoice in the Lord always! Now, here are these people who are apparently at each others throats, and he’s telling them to rejoice in the Lord always! If you think about it for a moment though it does make sense and Paul certainly had plenty of experience in dealing with “hard times” so he was quite qualified to know what he was talking about when telling others what to do when involved in a difficult personal situation. He says, “rejoice in the Lord always!” Notice he is not saying to rejoice in the problem or the circumstance, but to rejoice in the Lord. What does that mean? It means that no matter what we are going through physically or even emotionally, that we can have inner joy by simply remembering what the Lord has done for us and what He has promised to do in our future. In other words, remembering our blessed hope, the rapture. By doing this, rejoicing in the Lord, it brings our focus off our circumstances, off the current problem or difficulty and puts it squarely back where it belongs: on our Lord Jesus! This is what gives us joy. This is why Paul was able to rejoice even after being beaten half to death and being in prison! The joy of the Lord was his strength! That joy can be ours too and the Lord wants us to use it! That is why Paul reminds them to rejoice in the Lord.
Next Paul advises them to let their gentleness be evident to everyone. If you recall, gentleness is a fruit of the spirit. Fruit of the spirit is what becomes evident in our lives as we mature in the Lord. We mature in the Lord as we work out our salvation. By reminding them to let their gentleness be evident to everyone, it once again reminds them that they are not to act the way they did before they were saved, they were instead to “live up to what they had already attained”.
I realize that as we’ve been looking at what Paul says here, that I’ve been using the word “they” referring to the people that Paul was writing to, but please know that everything Paul wrote to them, was also written to us as well. It has just as much meaning for us as it did for the original people it was intended for.
Now, after telling them to let their gentleness show, Paul reminds them that the Lord is near, meaning that even then they were waiting for the rapture to happen just as we are. The difference here for us is that we are even closer to the rapture then they were! Just as God’s Word says elsewhere, “our salvation (meaning the completion of our salvation which occurs at the rapture) is nearer now then when we first believed. (Rom 13: 11-12)
Next we hear the familiar command that we are not to be anxious about anything. Instead Paul says, we are to remember that Christ’s coming is near and simply present our requests to Him with thanksgiving. Paul wasn’t telling them not to “care” about the things that were happening to themselves or others, but rather not to “worry” about those things. We are to love and care about each other, but not “worry” or be “anxious” about each other or anything else. We are instead to trust God. If we really trust God, then we cannot worry, as worry eliminates that trust. Paul reminds us that when we trust God, that His Peace will guard our hearts and minds, kicking that worry right out the door! Again, this is another measure of our spiritual maturity. The more spiritually mature we are, the more we’ll be able to trust the Lord, and the less we will worry. Do I need to say again how we achieve that spiritual maturity? There really is only one way and no shortcuts to it. It requires daily work on our parts, which is how we work out our salvation.
Finally Paul gives us some more very solid advice as to how to keep our minds from worry and anxiety. He tells us that we shouldn’t be dwelling on evil or sinful things, but rather on things that are good, true, and right. Those are the kinds of things we should be thinking on. God’s Word has quite a bit more to say on this subject so we’ll deal with it another time in more depth. For now though, let us know that thinking on problems is not on the list of things that Paul says we should be thinking on!
Paul ends this part in much the same manner as he ended the others, and I think it’s the perfect way to end today’s study too:
Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This week’s promise: God promises that you will work out your salvation
Matthew 25:14-30 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.“ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Today I’d like to look at the above parable in relation to how we work out our salvation. We know now that working out our salvation is another way of saying becoming mature in Christ, and that this is something that the Lord expects from each and every person who has chosen to follow Him.
In the above parable, Jesus was not talking about money. He was once again telling us what He expects from us! When we are saved, He gives us each a desire to know Him better, and He gives us each particular abilities or talents as well. Everything we have has been given us by the Lord. If we have a high IQ, that’s because the Lord gifted us with it! If we have a great memory, it’s again because the Lord gifted us with it. He also gives us each spiritual gifts as well. Too often we tend to take credit for our own intelligence or other abilities when it was really a gift from the Lord. He expects us each to use what He has given us to serve Him. In the parable the Lord gives different amounts to different people and this is quite true. He gives us each what He alone knows that we can handle. He never gives anyone so little that they are bored, nor does He give them so much that they cannot handle it. He knows us better then we know ourselves, therefore we can trust that if He has given us something to do that we can in fact do it with His help.
Let’s start from the beginning again. First Jesus gives us His gift of salvation, and has given us each other abilities and talents. Then Jesus left for a long time. Isn’t it interesting how He has warned us in several places in His Word that once He ascended that He would be gone a long time in our way of thinking before he returned again? Notice in the parable what the first man did when the Master left? Does it remind you of what happened when Jesus called his disciples? (Remember how when Jesus called each of them, it says in the bible that they “immediately” got up and followed Him? Like that, the first man goes “at once” and put his money to work and earned more, as did the next man. Jesus is showing us here that when we are saved, He expects us to immediately live up to what we have already attained, just as Paul said in Phil 3:16. The only way we can do that is through studying God’s Word. The only way we can “invest” what Christ has given us is also through studying His Word, so that we can then share that knowledge with others. Therefore when we receive this wonderful gift of salvation, our very first requirement is to study!
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
When we study and spend time in prayer, we begin on the path to spiritual maturity. The closer we become to the Lord through prayer and study, the less likely we are to be fooled by false teachers, and the more grateful we’ll be for our own salvation because we’ll actually understand it better! Because we are more grateful and more knowledgeable, our testimonies will be all the more powerful too!
Matthew 13:12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
Matthew 25:33-34 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Now in contrast, the last man hid his money instead of investing it. He did nothing at all with what the Lord had given him! Jesus, instead of rewarding him as he expected in his arrogance, took back what He had given him and cast him into hell. This man is an example of a false follower of Christ. He is a picture of what a “goat” would look like. Once again the Lord shows us that a true follower of His, will seek to do His will, and will exhibit the fruit of the spirit In their lives. There is no “in between”. Either a person IS saved and is “investing” their time for the Lord by studying His Word and spending time with Him and doing His Will, or they are not. They may say they are, like that last man, or like the goats in the other parable, or like the false teachers Paul speaks of, but in fact they are not our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I want to point out one other thing about this parable quickly and that is that it is a picture not only of what Christ expects of us when we are saved, but what He expects of us from the moment of salvation until His return at the rapture. He expects us to be faithful and to use what He has given us; to learn all we can and become as close to Him as we can.
This week’s promise: God promises that you will work out your salvation
Luke 8:11-15 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Today I would like to look at another of our Lord’s parables. This is the parable of the sower which I’m sure we’re all very familiar with. In this parable the Lord tells us about how people receive the Gospel and how each type of person deals with it differently and what their outcome is.
Jesus says there are 4 groups of people who hear His Gospel. The first are the ones that never accept it or believe because the devil keeps them blind. We’re all familiar with this kind of person unfortunately. They usually think they’re very smart and intellectual. Sadly for them the only knowledge they have is the kind that’s worthless, for they only have the worlds knowledge and not the knowledge or wisdom of God.
The second are those who seems to be saved but then when the going gets rough they fall away. This group didn’t lose their salvation because although they seemed to be saved, they never really were. There are many people in this group. Some of them are great pretenders too. We often call them our brothers and sisters not realizing that they have never really been saved. These are the folks that renounce their faith and then cause all sorts of divisions in the body of Christ because they insist that they really were saved, when in fact they weren’t. They try to convince people that you can lose your salvation but God’s Word is quite plain and clear that someone who is really saved cannot lose their salvation. Therefore, those who renounce their faith, and those who fall away are simply among the group of people who were never really saved to begin with. I tend to think that this is actually one of the largest groups of all.
The third group Jesus says is a group that hears the Gospel, seems to be saved, but they never grow to maturity. They are to wrapped up in the world and what they see to take the Kingdom of God seriously. I think this is another group that is also very large. We often call the members of this group our brothers and sisters too, but again they are not really our brothers and sisters, for they too are not really saved. There is only one group according to our Lord that is really saved and that is the fourth group.
Notice what Jesus says about this last group who really are saved. He says that they hear the Word, retain it and persevere producing a crop. This is the group that grow to maturity and are really saved. None of the others are saved. None of them are our brothers or sisters in Christ. How very sad this is because when we look at the people who fill the churches today, even the pastors themselves, how many are really saved? It seems there are very few and that’s what saddens me.
Let’s look closer at what the difference is in this fourth group that shows that they are really saved.
Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. NIV
First the Lord says they retain His Word. Let’s look at that particular verse in a couple of other translations:
Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. KJV
Luke 8:15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. ESV
This makes it very easy to see that there is more to being saved then simply “hearing the word”. When we are saved, really saved, we “retain the word” or “hold it fast” or “keep it”. In other words, it’s more then just knowing it, we have to use it or perhaps another way of looking at it would be to say that we must obey it. When we do that, the last part of the verse comes into play, because it is only then that we bear fruit, or “produce a crop”. Of course here we are talking about producing fruit of the spirit which we’ve already discussed. This is how we work out our salvation as Paul called it. We hear the word and hang onto it for dear life, obeying it, and putting our Lord and His Word above everyone and everything else in our lives. It means that we study His Word, wanting to know Him better and know His Will better and that we reflect on it, and that we’re always straining toward the goal of our final prize, the redemption of our bodies at the rapture. We want to be more like Him who died for us, we want to please Him and we want that more then we want anything else. Let’s take a look now at how Jesus ended this parable we’ve been studying:
Luke 8:16-18“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”
Jesus is telling us here again to consider carefully how we’re listening to Him. If our lives do not reflect that we belong to Him, then we do not really belong to Him but are only pretending to. He warns us that if a person continues in that way, that they will be shown to be a false follower and everyone will know that they are not saved. He warns us that eventually what we really are will be revealed to everyone. His Word warns us too that we should regularly examine ourselves and our lives to make sure that we are living the way He wants us to.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.
Galatians 6:3-4 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
Once again God’s Word has shown us that following Jesus is a lot more then going to church on Sunday. It means working out our salvation, which is another way of saying we need to grow to maturity in Christ. It is not acceptable to simply say “we believe” if our lives to not reflect that belief. Does this mean that we need to get ourselves busy doing “good works”. Not at all! What it means is that we need to make certain that we daily spend time with the Lord in prayer, spend time daily reading, studying and reflecting on His Word. When we do that, and we are actively listening to the Lord, then our outward lives will automatically reflect our beliefs and show that we are indeed saved and the “good works” that others talk of so freely will come automatically. We will see the fruit of the spirit in our lives more and more and we will find that we care less and less for this world and it’s attractions.
This week’s promise: God promises that you will work out your salvation
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
2 Peter 1:3-11 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today I’d like to finish up by looking at a few other passages from God’s Word about this. To often Christians don’t understand that they have a part to play in their salvation. While we are saved totally by the Grace of God alone and not by anything we do, and while we can not earn our salvation, and we cannot lose our salvation once attained, once we are saved, we DO have work to do! The easiest way to explain it is to view our salvation like a new plant. It must be watered and fed and cared for if it is to grow and survive.
Now let’s look at the passage from 2 Peter. First we are told that the Lord gives us everything we need for life and godliness. He doesn’t give us some of it, but all that we need. Now notice the very next words in that sentence; let me quote it here again:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Do you see what it is that we need for life and godliness? It is through our knowledge of Him that we gain what we need! Now how do we gain that knowledge? When we were saved the Lord both opened our spiritual eyes and our hearts to His Gospel so we could accept it. He then gave us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and teach us all that we need to know. He gave us His Word, our Bible to read, study and reflect on with the guidance of His Holy Spirit. He gave us the ability to come before Him in prayer to receive help in our times of need. This then is how we gain what we need for life and godliness! There is no other way!
I take that back. In undeveloped countries, the Lord I’m sure puts His Word in peoples minds like He did back in the days before we had a written bible in our language. Back in the disciples time, people memorized the entire Word of God. Today that sounds like an amazing feat, and yet back then it was the norm for everyone. The Jewish people began teaching their children to memorize the Old Testament when they were just toddlers. Regardless of how we get God’s Word though, it is through His Word that we gain what we need for life and godliness. We have been very blessed to have His Word so readily and easily available for us.
I would like to clarify something though. It is not just through the study of His Word, but it through our close personal relationship with Him AND our study of His Word that we get what we need. He and His Word is our strength. Nor can someone who is not saved gain the same things by studying God’s Word. The Lord tells us that only those of us who have been saved and have the Holy Spirit within us understand His Word. Worldly, unsaved people can study God’s Word all their lives and get as many degrees as they want and they still won’t really understand the first thing about it. They can’t. (1 Corinthians 2:10-14 )
Let’s now look at the next sentence in this passage:
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Through what? For that we have to look at the preceding sentence. When we do we see it is through His Word that He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them—through His promises, His Word, we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Does this mean that we become divine like Jesus? No it does not. We are not God and never will be. The word for “participate” actually translates to “become partners”. We become partners with Christ, and when we do that, we become more and more like Him, but we do not become God ourselves. That is a false teaching.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When he says, “for this very reason”, he is referring to being partners with Christ and becoming more like Him, so he is saying, “To be more and more like Christ, add to your faith….” He then gives a list of spiritual fruit that we need to strive for. When he says goodness, he is talking about moral excellency. We are not to be like the world, but instead are to order our lives the way God would have us do. To that we are to add knowledge. He is not speaking here of knowledge that you would attain at school. The word gnōsin refers to spiritual knowledge attained through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. So once again we are told where to get what we need for godliness. He then goes on with more things that are all basic fruit of the spirit that are born from a close relationship with Christ. These he says will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus, if we possess them in increasing measure. In other words, it is a never ending journey. We are to be always striving to be closer to the Lord, to be more like Him, and to always do His Will. As we persevere and do this, we produce the crop that the Lord tells us those who are truly saved will produce. ( Luke 8:15 )
Then Peter continues and tells us about those who do not have these qualities:
2 Peter 1:9-11 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Those who don’t have these qualities are still babies in Christ because he says they have been cleansed from their past sins. Peter then encourages them as well as us to make our calling sure, to work out our salvation, to become mature in Christ and not stay little babies who cannot be sure of their salvation and will get no reward and will not ever earn the words we all long to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant!” I can’t think of a better way to end this study then the way Peter did, urging us to eagerly make sure of our calling so that we will one day hear these most wonderful words:
Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’