Salvation Worked Out in Prayer
Salvation is not by works — and yet we must work as if our very hope of Heaven depended on our work. Jesus is our hope. We do not merit Heaven by our good works, nevertheless, we must work. The apostle said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Great responsibility rests on the Christian. He has a priceless, immortal soul. That soul is washed in the blood of Jesus and made of a like nature with God and thus fitted for the pure glory world. But oh! there are so many pitfalls of Satan along the way to ensnare that soul while it is yet tabernacling in its house of clay. There are temptations upon every hand. Sin and the worldare calling to allure that soul away from its God. Therefore “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” It is not a slavish fear, nor a fear and trembling that arises from doubts — but it is a godly fear and a trembling, born of self-distrust lest you should fail.
There is so much at stake — Heaven in all its transcendent beauty and glory, in its everlasting and supreme peace, joy, and happiness; God in his holiness and power; Jesus in his excellent glory. In the midst of all this, we can dwell in the very highest degree of delights while eternity rolls on and on forever. But all this is lost — if we fail in running the race.
Look for a moment. Upon one hand there is a dark abyss of woe, misery, and death; on the other hand a mountain of light, peace, and happiness. As we journey through life, there is hope of the one and danger of the other. We are given power to shun the one and gain the other — but there are temptations on every hand, and we must watch and pray, lest we enter into them.
We can fear and tremble — and yet feel safe. A child may be walking with its little hand in its father’s in the darkness of the night and amid some danger. Though the little one fears the darkness — yet it feels a blessed safety. May God’s dear children never lose their fear and trembling. As long as the child fears the darkness of the night and the danger of the way — it presses close to the father and is safe — but when it loses that fear and thinks there is not much danger — it is inclined to leave its father’s side, and then it is no longer safe!
Servants are to obey their masters “with fear and trembling” (see Ephesians 6:5) — not that fear which enslaves — but a dutiful fear. In their eagerness to please — they fear and tremble lest they displease. The apostle Paul said to the saints at Corinth, “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” His was not slavish fear and despair — but fear and trembling before the greatness of responsibility. This is not fear which makes wretched. On the contrary, it is reallyblessed to have this fear and trembling on the soul.
We cannot have a consciousness of safety — unless we have a consciousness of fear. It is only when we are conscious of the very greatest danger — that we can enjoy and appreciate our perfect safety. In God we are safe, blessedly safe — but we must not lose our consciousness of the awful danger outside. Looking out, we fear and tremble — but we hide in God and are safe. Bless his name!
There are many problems in the Christian life which are to be worked out. The schoolmaster gives the child the first book in mathematics. It contains many problems for the little one to work out — but the easiest ones are on the first page. As they are just difficult enough to task the little mind to its utmost, the solving of them increases the child’s power of mind and prepares him for the more difficult problems on the next page. Thus it goes on through the book. Though the problems constantly grow more difficult — yet the mind, ever increasing in strength, solves the harder ones even more easily than it did the simpler. When the child comes to a trying problem, what should he do? Should he shrink before the task and give it up? It so, he will never win — but if he sets to work energetically, he will before long solve the problem. The labor expended will prepare him for problems that are harder.
So it is with us spiritually. We have many problems to be worked out. We are to work them out with fear and trembling. God, too, uses wisdom in the education of his children. He gives the easiest problems first. The solving of all the problems may rightly be termed prayer. Many of them are to be worked out upon the knees.As we progress, the problems become more difficult — but there is strength of soul to work them out.
After the apostle says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” he adds, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13. This simply means that God gives power to will and to do his pleasure. So you can solve every problem in life — if you will use that power. You can do God’s will — if you make use of the power God gives you. It is God who gives us power to will, and to do the work belonging to the Christian life. This power is obtained through prayer. Do you lack power — then go to your God in prayer!