Our theme for this month: “Understanding Salvation”
Our Bible verse for today: “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “You have to work out your salvation.”
In my twenties and thirties I was a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not “The Terminator” Arnold, but the “Mr. America” Arnold, the body builder. I wanted to be a body builder too. I wanted to have 20 inch biceps and be able to bench press small automobiles.
I had a copy of Arnold’s book “The Education of a Body Builder”. It was filled with suggested workout routines and lots of pictures. I had an image in my mind of what I wanted to be like, and I had a plan to follow to help me get there. Well, I never even came close to Arnold’s stature but for about ten years I was kind of pumped-up and muscular. (Linda tells me I was more of a muscle-head than a muscle-man but sometimes she gets mean like that.)
In Philippians 2:12 the Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of working out and building up, and he applies it to the process of sanctification. Here Paul tells us that we have to “work-out” our salvation. He does not say that we have to “work for” our salvation, we’ve already addressed that issue – salvation is by grace not by works. But he does say we must “work out” our salvation. By that Paul means the same thing Arnold did. If you want big muscles, a big physical stature, you have to do your exercises. Likewise, if you want a big spiritual stature you have to do your exercises – you have to do the things that will help you to grow.
This second stage of the salvation process, the stage the Bible and theologians refer to as “sanctification” is a growing period. It is the time when we are supposed to be learning, changing, and slowly becoming more and more like Jesus.
Once upon a time, earlier in life, I wanted to become more and more like Arnold in physical stature. Now I realize it would be much better to become more and more like Jesus in spiritual stature. That’s what the process of sanctification accomplishes for us. Our exercises for this spiritual development include things like daily prayer and Bible study, worship, full participation in a good church family, acts of service to those in need, good stewardship, and the other basic disciplines of the Christian life.
When I was trying to grow physically I relied on Arnold’s book “The Education of a Body Builder” as a guide. If you would like a great book to guide you in learning and applying the basic disciplines of the Christian life I can think of none better (after the Bible itself) than Richard Foster’s classic work “The Celebration of Discipline”. I think you would find it very helpful in guiding and accelerating your spiritual growth.
I encourage you, as part of your daily routine, to “work out” your salvation.