"Work out your Salvation"
Cult groups and Christians alike often wonder how much "work" is needed to be counted as righteous before God. They often ask us this question.
Groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses with their endless meetings, door to door ministry, placing their magazines and counting meticulously all the time they spend in these pursuits and efforts, believe that somehow God will approve of their efforts and reward them. They can never be certain that they have "done enough" and always feel driven to do more.
Mormons, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) likewise have their "works"--temple ceremonies, wearing special garments, avoiding certain foods or drinks, tithing, temple worthiness pursuits, researching and being baptized in proxy for their ancestors and others, and missionary stints for their young people. They believe these efforts will bring God's approval and a higher state of salvation. Their works are ongoing as well right up to death.
Seventh-day Adventists with their meatless diets, worshiping on the "sabbath" avoiding all work on certain days, wearing certain clothes, avoiding jewelry etc. are also on a works trip to try and impress God.
In many Christian churches we still find many rules and requirements for one to be a "good" Christian. Those that don't fit the mold set by the denomination are looked down upon.
Many people partially quote the scripture Philippians 2: 11-13 and threaten you to "....work out you own salvation with fear and trembling." and advise you to "get to work" They fail to finish the quote that assures us that "God is at work in us".
So, does our salvation depend on our good works and good deeds?
What if I don't quite make it? Am I then lost? Do I have no hope of salvation?
The following is just a very brief overview of this subject but will give the reader an introduction into the topic people raise about "grace and works".
First off, regarding Salvation we can be assured through Scripture that we are saved due entirely to Christ's grace. The Greek word for "grace" means "unmerited favor", that is, a "gift" given freely with no restrictions. We cannot "earn" grace.
"For by grace you have been saved (past tense) through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works that no one should boast." (Eph. 2: 8,9 ).
There are many other scriptures saying the same thing, so the point is made, we are saved by grace alone and there is no way we can work for it.
However, being human in a "works"-oriented world, we think we must work endlessly to try and earn our way with God. Even Jesus' disciples wondered and asked Him,
"They said therefore to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them,
"This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent". (John 6:28,29).
Wow, what an answer--the work of God is to believe in Jesus Christ, who will then extend salvation to us as a free gift if we but receive Him as our Savior, repent, and invite Him into our lives (John 1:12,13).
So what about all the scriptures about works? They are all related to the subject of faith, not salvation.
There will be good works in our lives IF we have the indwelling Christ.
Works are a RESULT of salvation,
not a CONDITION for it.
When Christ is in your life, you just can't stop talking about what He has done for you, and because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it will be no chore to read and study the Bible, help others, and share the message of salvation.
Works cause our FAITH to grow, not our salvation! "Faith without works is dead"--a scripture always misapplied by JW's to get you to "work out your own salvation", when salvation is not the topic, FAITH is!
We will get rewards from God based on our godly works--these will be a wonderful bonus to our salvation. We'll only know the extent of the "crowns" or "rewards" when we finally get to be with Christ . These are in addition to our free gift of salvation. How wonderful it will be to hear Him say "Well done, thy good and faithful servant"!
The goal is to have a real relationship with God in this life and for eternity after death!
The gospel message is simple: Believe and receive, doubt and go without! God has freely given His salvation by grace to all who would repent and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus Christ is Almighty God manifest in the flesh, (John 1:1-14) and Jesus Himself said, "Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).
The cults have not only presented a counterfeit "salvation", but also a counterfeit "Jesus". Find your way to the real Jesus and you will enjoy real salvation, and incidentally, because you are saved, real satisfying "works" that will build your faith. You will then be in the company of all believers through the ages who can confidentially declare that they "know they have eternal life".(1 John 5: 11-15).