Such a Great Salvation (15)
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12.1
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… Philippians 2.12
It’s all of grace…
We who believe in Jesus Christ are the beneficiaries of a great salvation, the intent of which is to fill the world with the presence of Jesus unto the knowledge of God and His glory (Eph. 4.7-10; 1 Cor. 10.31). Like light, our salvation penetrates everywhere, overcoming darkness and bringing goodness and warmth to the world. Like salt, our great salvation resists every decaying and corrupting tendency or word, and creates a thirst that only the Spirit of God can quench. Like leaven, our great salvation grows and spreads and surrounds and suffuses and transforms everything, making whatever is unpalatable or merely potential into that which is wholesome and edifying and beautiful and good.
And this great salvation comes to us as a gift of grace, freely, bountifully, completely, and continuously.
But while it comes to us by grace, it does not come without works, beginning with the works of our Lord Jesus Christ. By His righteousness, He weaves garments of salvation to fit each one who believes. By His death, He canceled the debt of sin we have run-up against God the Father. By His resurrection and reign, He opens the way to our great salvation through the outpouring of salvation and the gift of faith.
Because Jesus worked and even now continues working, our great salvation is sure.
But our salvation necessarily reflects the character of the Savior Who achieved it. Therefore, while it comes to us by grace, it does not come without work.Salvation, Paul reminds us, is unto good works in line with God’s Law and all His Word (Eph. 2.8-10). We must learn these works. We must discipline our hearts to be zealous for doing these works (Tit. 2.14), and we must be diligent and careful to maintain good works at every opportunity (Tit. 3.8, 14). It is in stretching ourselves in serving others by good works that we grow into our great salvation, and realize more of the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit that our great salvation affords.
…so let us work hard at it
We are saved by grace so that we may work by grace to fill the world with Jesus and the knowledge of God’s glory. But this will not just happen. As Paul reminded the Philippians, we must work out our salvation, like running a marathon race, cultivating a field or raising a barn (1 Cor. 3.9-15), building a beautiful temple and dwelling-place for God (Eph. 2.19-22), or fighting a continuous battle against powerful forces that would rob us of our great salvation (Eph. 6.10-20).
We are warned not to neglect the great salvation we have received. If we do neglect it, we will surely drift from it, and the danger in this is that we may be discovered, at some point, not really to have been saved at all, but merely to have tasted of the Lord and His salvation (Heb. 6.4-8). The Greek word for neglect is ἀμελέω. It means to not think about, and thus not respond appropriately to, to disregard, to pay no attention to that great salvation we have received. The Oxford English Dictionary echoes this meaning in its definition of neglect: to disregard, to pay little or no attention to, to leave unattended or uncared for, to fail to perform or to discharge a duty.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are duty-bound to let our light shine (Lk. 17.10), our salt preserve and flavor, and our leaven transform everything the Lord brings into our life. Only if we think more about our salvation, pay more attention to it and all its vast scope and prospect, respond as the Lord commands, and care for our salvation continuously – only then will we be able to perform those good works and discharge our duty to show Jesus to the world, to the praise of His Father and ours.
Time to get to work
It’s time to get to work, therefore. And if I may remind us, all work requires at least three things.
Work requires time. We must find time to work out our salvation; first, to engage those disciplines and exercises which will enlarge our understanding of salvation and enable us to see more clearly what the Lord has in store for us, so that we will hear Him more eagerly and desire more of His salvation every day. If your present practice of spending time with the Lord is not accomplishing those ends, then it’s time either to overhaul that practice or to adopt new practices that will allow you to tap into your great salvation at greater depths and with greater fruitfulness.
Also with respect to time, we must learn the disciplines for bringing our great salvation into all the time of our lives. Salvation is not some separate time zone we need only pay attention to when we’re traveling in it. Salvation reaches across and down into all the time of our lives, so that all of it can be redeemed and invested with work that brings our great salvation to light in our world.
Work requires intention. You have to make up your mind not to neglect your great salvation. And you have to do that every day, and very often throughout the day. We must be continually renewed in the spirit of our minds to remember that this salvation is greater than we know or ever have known; that it encompasses and infiltrates and refurbishes every area of our lives; that it is fraught with power for newness, compassion, love, and courage to make all things new. We must remember these things, and call them to mind frequently (Phil. 4.8). And when we do, we must resolve again that nothing shall hinder or deter us from gaining more of our great salvation every day, for every aspect of our world.
Work requires exertion. Working out our salvation means taking deliberate steps in the direction of what Jesus has accomplished and God has provided for us, getting out of the boat every time Jesus beckons, and walking on water toward Him as an act of obedient faith. We must learn new skills. Take more initiatives. Embark on projects that are presently beyond our experience or perceived capacity, trusting that, if the Lord has laid these on our heart, He will meet us there to enlarge our great salvation as we exert ourselves in His Name. And we must continue working at the fundamentals and foundations of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18).
And we must not grow weary in so doing.
By grace we have received a great salvation, and if we will seek the Lord daily and rely on His Word, we will by grace realize and enjoy more of that great salvation with every passing day.
1. How could you tell when someone was beginning to neglect his salvation? What would that look like in your own life?
2. Do you desire to increase in the possession and enjoyment of your great salvation? What do you think that will require of you?
3. Where’s the best place for you to begin in working out your great salvation more deeply and consistently? Why is this the best place for you?
Next steps – Preparation: Reflect on your answers to the questions above. Use your answers to lead you into a time of silent meditation and prayer, waiting on the Lord to convict, affirm, and direct you as He will. Share with a Christian friend your answer to the last question.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.