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Working Out Our Own Salvation

The Bible says that we have been saved by grace and we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. 

Here is an excerpt to an article by D. Martin Lloyd Jones called Working Out Our Own Salvation:


Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Phil. 2:12-13


We are considering these two verses for the second time because we have found that it is impossible to deal with them adequately in just one study. I have suggested that perhaps the best way of dividing up this statement would be to look at it in three ways: first of all, generally: then theologically, and lastly practically, and in our previous study we dealt with the first two headings.

We also saw that the Apostle's object in writing the words was not to give a disquisition on theology, but rather to make a practical appeal. Yet, as is his custom, he cannot make a practical appeal without putting it in terms of doctrine. That is where the New Testament way of life differs from a merely ethical system. Any appeal to the world to live a Christian life before it has become Christian, is, as we have seen, a negation of Christian teaching. We have here a perfect illustration of the Apostle's method. But it is true also of all the New Testament writers; it is the characteristic way of making an appeal for conduct and Christian behaviour. We are not put under a law but an appeal is made to us. There is a great law of life in the New Testament, but it is what the
New Testament calls 'the perfect law of liberty'. This does not mean that the Christian is living a lawless life, but that he has a higher kind of liberty. The New Testament always lays down its doctrine first, and then, having done so, says, 'If you believe that, cannot you see that this is inevitable?' It is an appeal to equity, to fair play. It does not confront us with a way of life, and say, 'Go and live it.' It first of all tells us of certain things that have been done for us, and then says, 'Now then ...'As you make the transition from doctrine to practice in the epistles, there is always a 'wherefore' or a 'therefore', and I am at pains to point out that the essential approach is to be found in such a connecting word. Without that, there is no appeal, but because of that, there is a very definite appeal to reason and to commonsense.

Perhaps, I can put it like this: is there anything that so thoroughly tests our whole profession of the Christian faith as our reaction to it when it calls upon us to live a certain kind of life? I put it like that for this good reason: do we not all know something in our experience about this unnatural and artificial dichotomy? We may like to hear the gospel with its grand good news and all that it has to offer, but we do not always feel quite so pleased when it goes on to call us to live in a particular way. There are people who say, 'But it is so narrow.' When it outlines a 'straight and narrow way', they say, 'Narrowness again!' Because of the 'wherefore', because of this indissoluble connection between doctrine and
practice, because, too, of this inevitable logical sequence from doctrine to behaviour, our attitude towards the appeal tells us a great deal about our ultimate attitude to the doctrine. The New Testament says that these things are really inevitable, they are linked together, so if I object to doing them, it surely implies that there is at any rate something wrong with my view of the doctrine. end quote

The author called the statement in the Holy Bible-the one that says "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"- written by Paul, an appeal. I call it a command from God written by Paul. But whatever we may call it, the Bible is God's word to man and must be heeded in humility and obedience. The author made an excellent point that the "wherefores" of conduct are merely an outworking of the doctrine in the life of the one believing the doctrine. If we believe the doctrine, the obedience will follow according to our belief or disbelief of it. The scriptures allow no dichotomy between faith and practice as does modern teachings especially as those espoused by C.I. Scofield who maintained there is a difference between "position" and "practice" in the Christian life.

Lloyd-Jones wrote: "We also saw that the Apostle's object in writing the words was not to give a disquisition on theology, but rather to make a practical appeal. Yet, as is his custom, he cannot make a practical appeal without putting it in terms of doctrine." In other words, the doctrines are the reasons behind the appeals for the godly behavior. Isn't it amazing you can read and hear sermons that explain the doctrines and behavior (position and practice) are entirely separate matters? In other words there is widespread teaching in the church that one's position in Christ is entirely unrelated to ones practice of faith-that there is a dichotomy between ones position as a blood-washed believer seated in the heavenlies and one's obedience to the doctrines he professes to believe. One's position is supposedly immovable regardless of whether that faith is a practical, sanctifying one. (The Bible clearly refutes this lie, but it is taught and believed widely.) In fact it is believed that saving faith and sanctifying faith are completely things apart, and that one may have saving faith without experiencing the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit as evidence of true salvation. These teachings are mainly in the "hyper-dispensationalism" realm of teaching but are becoming more and more mainstream in teaching because of the fleshly nature of such teaching: people love to hear that grace will increase even if sin abounds. They love to hear that they may sin and NOT reap what they sow-the "position" vs. "practice" false teaching.

I do post sermons by others about salvation if I believe they are correct but I do this with fear and trembling knowing how serious it would be if I were to lead someone astray. The Lord has led my husband and I to learn about dispensationalism in particular because this brand new theology (brand new in the sense of being so new to the church; it was introduced on a widespread basis through Scofield's 1917 Reference Bible and took a few decades to become firmly entrenched in the churches) has changed DRASTICALLY the way the gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached and has evolved over the years into another gospel. This "another gospel" is not a gospel that requires one to obey portions of the ceremonial law of Moses in addition to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, this "another gospel" is one in which the ones believing it may use the Lord Jesus Christ for cleansing of "positional" sin but spurn his cleansing of "practical" here-and-now sin. This "another gospel" also enables the one believing it to reject the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over his life because he is "under grace." Under this widely held false notion of salvation, grace is a substitute for obedience.

Does the Bible truly teach that you must be under authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be truly in the faith? (Yes!) Or does the Bible indeed teach that faith in Christ is a substitute for obeying him as a purchased possession? Are we in a unique dispensation that actually allows us to be saved by grace while in rebellion towards God? Is it true we can do what we would? (NO! See Gal. 5:17)

Does God permit Christians to obey their own will as a lifestyle (sin willfully) and remain safe from His wrath under the blood of Jesus Christ? No. If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth there remains no more sacrifice for sins. God calls this "troddening under foot the Son of God. See Hebrews 10:26-31. Is it true, that for the first time in biblical history, God's people DO NOT have to obey him? (And anyone who quotes dozens upon dozens of verses from the New Testament to prove that we do is accused of teaching a "works salvation!") Does the Bible teach the dispensation of grace gives us a DIFFERENT KIND of salvation? A less-than-holy salvation? A sin-all-you-want kind of salvation?

If the Bible does not teach the above, then why does the professing church in the U.S. and Canada in particular, live after the course of this world?  Why does the professing church have a huge dichotomy between their doctrinal beliefs and the practice of them?  Why is their walk not in line with their doctrine? 

Because they are being lied to by their leaders. Christians are not being told the whole counsel of God in respect to the nature of salvation. The teaching from most pulpits, yes even "fundamental ones" in the United States, leaves out the essential truth that obedience is the fruit of true salvation.  We have this foolish, non-scriptural saying in the churches of "Well, God knows the heart.  I can't know hearts; if that person professes salvation, I have to take them at face-value."  This is not true and NOT what scripture teaches.  What's more, pastors are trained in seminary that justification without sanctification is taught in the Bible.

Most of the pastors have been trained in seminaries where the tenets of dispensationalism are firmly entrenched and this hermeneutic is the lens through which the see the entire Bible.  Since they are taught that one's position in Christ and practice of being led by the Spirit are not related and that one's position is stable and unchanging even though one's practice may be of habitual sin then it is no wonder their congregations are not denying themselves and taking up their crosses and following Jesus. 

The pastors teach these verses are for the Jews only and they need not obey the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as engrafted branches of the True Vine.  They are actually taught to disregard the teachings of their own Savior and told in effect that they have a "different kind" of salvation...A salvation entirely different in quality from the one Jesus taught about.

Salvation is union with Christ, not merely union with certain verses of scripture that don't threaten our status quo.  There is only one Lord Jesus Christ and only one kind of salvation!  May God help us to see the teaching (taught by C.I. Scofield, in his Reference Bible!) that we should disregard the teachings in the gospels - which are the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ - is in fact teaching us to deny the Lord who bought us with his own blood.


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Liberty To The Captives Established in June 2001