Philippians 2:13
For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.
A Communion DiscourseJ. G. Butler, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
Christian ConcordR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 2:1-13
Christian Union -- StrengthJ. Hutchinson, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
Christian Union How ObtainedE. Meade, M. A.Philippians 2:1-13
Christian UnityE. Meade, M. A.Philippians 2:1-13
Christian UnityJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
Consolation in ChristC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 2:1-13
Consolation in ChristS. Lavington.Philippians 2:1-13
How Unity is ObtainedDr. Hamilton.Philippians 2:1-13
Love Promotes UnityLife of Brainerd.Philippians 2:1-13
Mutual HarmonyW. M. Statham.Philippians 2:1-13
Paul's AppealJ. Parker, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
Shoulder to ShoulderT. T. Shore.Philippians 2:1-13
The Apostle's AppealH. Airay, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
The Christian Doctrine of SelfW. B. Pope, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
The Emotional in ChristianityJ. B. Thomas, D. D.Philippians 2:1-13
The Excellence of Christian UnityE. Meade, M. A.Philippians 2:1-13
The Tender Sympathy of ChristTalmage.Philippians 2:1-13
Christian Salvation a Working Out What God Works inT. Croskery Philippians 2:12, 13
Divine Energy an Incentive to HumanR. Redpath, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
Divine Grace and Human EndeavoursG. Burder, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
Divine Influence and Mans' DutyR. Redpath, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
God is a Silent WorkerR. Cecil.Philippians 2:12-13
God Working in UsH. W. Beecher.Philippians 2:12-13
God WorksJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
God's Agency Effective When Man's is ImpotentR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 2:12-13
God's Grace and Man's Free AgencyG. Huntington, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
Grace is God's WorkH. W. Beecher.Philippians 2:12-13
Man Permeable by GodH. Bushnell, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Man to Work in His SalvationH. Melvill, B. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Man Working and God WorkingD. King, LL. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Man's Work an Evidence of His SalvationC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 2:12-13
Our Own SalvationV. Hutton Philippians 2:12, 13
Practical ReligionA. J. Furman.Philippians 2:12-13
SalvationJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Salvation a WorkJ. DaillePhilippians 2:12-13
Salvation as a Work in the SoulD. Thomas Philippians 2:12, 13
Salvation Possible, But not EasyW. C. Smith, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Salvation to be Worked Out with Fear and TremblingA. Raleigh, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Salvation Worked in and OutT. H. Leary, D. C. L.Philippians 2:12-13
Salvation Worked OutD. Wilcox.Philippians 2:12-13
Salvation Worked OutBishop Beveridge.Philippians 2:12-13
Salvation Worked OutPhilippians 2:12-13
Second PartR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
The Awful Responsibility of Personal InspirationsR.M. Edgar Philippians 2:12, 13
The Christian Work -- First PartPhilippians 2:12-13
The Difficulty of Working Out Our SalvationG. Huntington, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
The Law of Spiritual InteractionPrincipal Simon.Philippians 2:12-13
The Motive for This WorkJames Owen.Philippians 2:12-13
The Publicity of a Worked-Out SalvationD. R. Jenkins.Philippians 2:12-13
The Two-Fold Force in SalvationT. T. Manger.Philippians 2:12-13
The Way of SalvationJ. Sherman.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationJ. E. M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationR. Watson.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationJames Owen.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationJ. Wesley, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationC. Hedge, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of SalvationD. R. Jenkins.Philippians 2:12-13
The Working Out of Salvation GradualH. W. Beecher.Philippians 2:12-13
We Must Fear and Tremble Because of the Preciousness of SalvationJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 2:12-13
Work Out Your Own SalvationT. Guthrie, D. D.Philippians 2:12-13
Working Out Our Own SalvationW.F. Adeney Philippians 2:12, 13
Working Out SalvationJ. McNeill.Philippians 2:12-13
Working Out What is Worked InC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 2:12-13
Your Own SalvationC. H. SpurgeonPhilippians 2:12-13
Divine HelpA. H. Moment, D. D.Philippians 2:12-18
ExhortationsR. Finlayson Philippians 2:12-18
The Obedience of the Christian LifeW. B. Pope, D. D.Philippians 2:12-18
Working Out Our Own SalvationJ. J. Goadby.Philippians 2:12-18
The apostle, after commending the Philippians for their obedience to God in his absence, counsels them to continue in that course, working out their salvation for themselves. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

I. CONSIDER the MATTER TO RE WORKED OUT. "Your own salvation."

1. Salvation is an essentially individual thing between each man and his God. It is the supreme concernment of every man. Green shows it was the glory of Puritanism that "religion in its deepest and innermost sense had to do, not with Churches, but with the individual soul. It is as a single soul that each Christian claims his part in the mystery of redemption."

2. Though salvation is God's work, it is yet consistent with Scripture fact that it should be man's work likewise. The salvation to be worked out is supposed to be already possessed in its principle or germ; for the apostle addresses this counsel, not to unconverted sinners, but to "saints in Christ Jesus." The breadth of the word "salvation" is to be carefully estimated. Sometimes it is used in Scripture, as we have already seen, as equivalent to justification or pardon; sometimes as equivalent to sanctification; sometimes as equivalent to the final deliverance at death or judgment. Thus it may be regarded as either past, present, or future. It is in the second sense that the apostle uses the expression, for he has special regard here to the development of the Christian life in believers.

II. THE PROCESS OF WORKING OUT THIS SALVATION. "Work out your own salvation."

1. This implies that Christian life is not a mystic and indolent quietism which moves neither hand nor foot, but a state of cow, scions activity and struggle. There are theories of sanctification in our day which teach the doctrine of the soul's passivity, as if it lay in the arms of Jesus without effort or almost conscious thought. Such an idea would need a recasting of the whole phraseology of Scripture to justify it. Christian life is always represented in Scripture as a life of watching, of struggle, of combat. "So run that ye may obtain" (1 Corinthians 9:24); "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air" (1 Corinthians 9:26); "Striving according to his working which worketh in me mightily "(Colossians 1:29); "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:14); "Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10).

2. It implies that God has already worked in he what we are to work out. If we work out anything else, it will be of nature or the devil. If, therefore, we have faith, hope, or love, let us work it out. If we have been begotten again with the incorruptible seed of the Word, work out its imperishable principles in all the lovely consistencies of a holy life.

3. It implies a constant and faithful use of all the means appointed by God for this end. (Matthew 6:33; Acts 13:43; Romans 12:12.)

III. THE REASON OR ENCOURAGEMENT FOR ENERGY IN THIS WORK. "For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

1. Consider how the encouragement operates. The believer strives because he is assured of Divine co-operation in the work. There is a spirit of dependence in human life which tends to produce weakness and sterility; but dependence on God is the true spring of all effort, strength, and heroism. Divine grace has no tendency to supersede human effort, but rather to stimulate it to greater results. The fact that an army is led by a matchless general does not make soldiers less, but more, resolute in carrying out his commands. Wellington regarded the presence of Napoleon Bonaparte at the head of his army as equal to a hundred thousand additional bayonets. Let the Christian, then, work out his salvation; for he has God working in him every result involved in it.

2. Consider the sphere of God's working. "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The Divine operation touches the first impulse of the will as well as the final achievement that flows from it. Augustine says, "Therefore we will, but God works in us also to will; therefore we work, but God works in us also to work." How natural, then, that believers should attribute everything good in them to Divine grace!

3. Consider the end and direction of this working. "Of his good pleasure." God delights in this work, even in the perfection of his saints. It is his good pleasure that they should be holy, pure, loving.

4. Consider the mystery of the double working here implied. The apostle does not attempt to explain the blending of the two activities in one glorious work, so as to indicate where the one ends and the other begins. In other words, he does not attempt to reconcile the doctrine of man's freedom with the doctrine of God's sovereignty. This is a deep mystery, which faith can accept, but the philosophies of earth have tried in vain to unravel.

IV. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH BELIEVERS ARE TO WORK OUT THEIR SALVATION, "With fear and trembling." With an inward distrust of our own power and an anxious solicitude for the constant action of Divine power. There is a feat' and a trembling that have a true place in the Christian life. he in consideration of our sins and our weaknesses, yet that lead us to cling all the closer to the Ark of our strength. Fear has its place even by the side of faith, pointing its finger to possible dangers. "Thou standest by faith: therefore be thou not high-minded, but fear." But the fear is not that which is hostile to full assurance, but to carnality and recklessness; while the trembling is not that of the slave, but of the child of God, tremblingly alive to all his responsibilities and to the fear of vexing God's Holy Spirit. V, CONSIDERATIONS WHY WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO DO THIS WORK.

1. God commands it. (Acts 17:30.)

2. He shows us how to do it. (Micah 6:8.)

3. He works with us and in us to do it.

4. It is the most pleasant work. (Proverbs 2:17.)

5. It is most honorable. (Proverbs 12:26.)

6. It is most profitable. (1 Timothy 4:8.)

7. It is work not to be begun only, but finished. (John 17:4.)

8. All other works are sin till this is begun. (Isaiah 66:3.)

9. Unless it be done, we are undone for ever. (Luke 13:3.) - T.C.

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

1. Others may be solicitous about you.

2. You must bear the responsibility.


1. It is not of works.

2. Yet it must be worked out.


1. With peaceful confidence in God.

2. Yet with fear and trembling.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)


1. The blessing itself — Salvation. What is that? Deliverance from sin. Had there been no sin there would have needed no salvation. But having sinned man has lost likeness to God, love for God, life with God, and he wants these restored. But he cannot get them back of himself. Christ, however, has secured them for him; deliverance(1) from the curse of sin. Christ has taken this upon Himself (Romans 8:1).(2) From the dominion of sin. That is made the slave which all along has been the master.(3) From all the consequences of sin.

(a)Separation from God. Being saved from sin man has access to God.

(b)Eternal punishment.

2. Your interest in this salvation. You hear people say, "That is my own house, my own business," and lay great emphasis on the "own." And your own salvation has a peculiar emphasis connected with it. Christ's salvation is a common salvation, and you do well to publish it; but what if heathens should possess it, and you through the want of it be lost.


1. Negatively: this does not mean —(1) To make an atonement for sin. Salvation in that respect is finished.(2) That you are saved through your work. There is no more merit in it than there is in receiving alms from a benefactor.

2. Positively; it is —(1) To labour to believe, and receive salvation — by reading, hearing, meditation, etc.(2) To labour to secure the enjoyment of salvation. Many have it, but not the joy of it. This is secured by prayer and Christian work.(3) Labour to exhibit and practise salvation. You cannot hold the world and sin in one hand, and salvation in the other.

III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO USE THE MEANS PRESCRIBED. Do not say, trembling soul, thou hast no strength, "I would work, but am so feeble." Thy helper is God.

1. He works "to will." He does not reform the natural faculty of the will; but sweetly and powerfully constrains that will by His Holy Spirit.

2. He works "to do." Sometimes you have the will but not the strength. But as God works in us principles of action — faith, love, and regard for His glory — so when these principles are quickened and brought into practice, what cannot a man do?

(J. Sherman.)

Hearers often allege that preachers deal with subjects in which they have no interest, or with unpractical themes or with mysterious dogmas. No such charge can be preferred against this.

I. THE MATTER UNDER CONSIDERATION. Salvation; which contains within it deliverance —

1. Prom the guilt of our past sins. This is a matter of grave consideration.(1) God thinks so, or He would not have sent His Son and His Spirit.(2) The Church thinks so, or earnest men and women would not make such sacrifices to bring men to this salvation.(3) The angels think so, or there would not be joy in their presence at sinners repenting.(4) The devils and lost spirits think so, or the one would not endeavour to thwart salvation, nor the others (as Dives) long so ardently for the salvation of their living brethren.Nothing so much concerns any one as this.(1) What is it to have a healthy body if you have a perishing soul?(2) What is wealth if that which is more precious than the whole world be lost?(3) What are honour and reputation if we have to hear, "Depart from Me."


1. The sin you commit is your own and its condemnation. You may share in other men's sins and they in yours; but a burden lies on you which no one can touch. You must obtain it, for this a personal pardon, or you are undone forever. You must yourself repent, believe, etc.

2. You must personally die, and in that dying we shall have either personal comfort or personal dismay. When death is past, salvation is still "our own." There is a personal heaven for a personal believer. But if you have it not, it will be your own damnation. No one will be condemned for you. A substitute there is now, but not then.

3. You may be tempted to forget your own salvation by thoughts of other people. Reverse the process.

(1)Members of the Church.

(2)Official Christians.

(3)Unpractical doctrinists.



(6)Those who have espoused great public designs. Protestant controversialists, reformers, etc.


1. "Is it not all fixed? Don't you believe in predestination? What have we then to do with our own salvation?" Is it not fixed whether you shall be nourished with food today or shall go hungry? Why then will you go home and eat your dinner? You do not reason so wickedly and foolishly about any other subject but this.

2. Do you not believe in full assurance? Yes, but presumption is not assurance, and the most fully assured are those who are most careful about their own salvation.

3. "This is very selfish." Yes, but it is a selfishness that is needful before you can be unselfish. How can you be of any service to others if you are not saved yourself.

IV. RENDER SOME ASSISTANCE. Ask yourself, "Am I saved?"

1. Does God work in you? Have you a work of the Holy Spirit in your soul? If so, you are saved.

2. Does your salvation rest wholly on Christ? If you are hanging on anything but the Cross you are deceived.

3. Have you turned your back on sin?

4. If not, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," etc.

(C. H. Spurgeon)

Salvation is founded on the mediation of Christ, but it is perfected by personal cooperation This is your own salvation, because —

I. IT MUST BE WROUGHT OUT IN YOURSELF. It must have all the distinctiveness which pertains to individuality of character.

1. Its sphere is in the man. Christianity is not an outward application, but an inward work; not rites, etc., but life.

2. It is marked by attributes so distinct as to isolate it and make it our own. Every man has his own infirmities, and hence the work of grace differs in individuals.

II. IT MUST BE WROUGHT OUT BY YOURSELF. The necessity of Divine influence is assumed — "It is God that worketh in you." We cannot be too deeply conscious of our entire dependence; but we cannot be too much alive to our personal obligations. The latter will be the basis of the judgment. The ministry of the Word, etc., are highly important; but they must not be substitutes for personal Christianity.

III. IT MUST BE WROUGHT OUT FOR YOURSELF. Every Christian is now shaping the character of his salvation in the world to come where "everyone will receive," etc.

(J. E. M. A.)

I. THE SALVATION WHICH IS TO BE WROUGHT OUT. "Salvation" has two senses — deliverance, and a being raised to that state of holiness and happiness which God designs. In the text it includes both. Salvation was no: finished on the cross. It was not even secured; since something depends upon our own act. Salvation is a process. The first step is deliverance from blindness and insensibility; the second, from condemnation. Our salvation, then, proceeds into a state of entire conformity to the mind of Christ. Yet it supposes growth, even then. It is also preservation, every moment, from temptation, sloth, neglect, impatience, until at death the pure spirit is committed into the hands of the Father, and enters upon the perfect happiness of heaven.


1. "Work" denotes a vigorous application of the mind to —

(1)Serious thoughts.

(2)Prayerful exercises of faith.

(3)The government of the heart.

(4)The resistance of temptation.

(5)The means of grace.

(6)Practical religion.

2. Salvation is to be worked out. By repentance and faith till justification and sanctification are secured. Our daily contests and attainments must be prosecuted till the conqueror be crowned.

3. With fear and trembling. Beware of the treachery of the heart. The number who have fallen; the immense stake at issue; the frown of God.


1. This settles the disputed point of Divine help and human agency; not philosophically but practically. God does not so work in man as to render him a mechanical instrument; nor does man so work as that the work is attributed to his own powers.

1. A great part of the controversy respecting free will arises from not distinguishing between a power to will and the act of willing. That such a distinction is just, appears most clearly from God's working in us "to do." Now, it were absurd to say, God "does," that is, prays, watches, and believes, for us; but He gives the power. It were equally absurd to say, God "wills" for us; but He gives the power to will; for He restores free agency. Again: If God necessitated our doing, He would not "work in us to do," but by us to do; so, if He necessitated our will, he would work, not" in us to will," but by us to will. The sense is, that He works in us that we may ourselves will and do.

2. God works in us to will. Several operations are necessary here. He enlightens the mind; impresses upon us the things that belong to our peace; and sets before us the motives which persuade the will. This, however, is not power to do. "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." God strengthens us by the rich effusions of His blessed Spirit. He does not convey all power at once. Some degree of it is given, independently of ourselves. Afterwards, the power is increased according to our diligence, and faith, and improvement. What, then, is there that you cannot attain? "God worketh in you."

3. Do you doubt of(1) Your attaining to saving faith? "God worketh in you;" and His grace is sufficient.(2) Your attaining power over sin? "God worketh in you;" and is anything too hard for Him?(3) Your gaining complete salvation? "God worketh in you;" and His almighty Spirit can sanctify the most corrupt and depraved nature.(4) Your victory over trouble and conflict? Fear not: "God worketh in you;" and His strength shall be so made perfect in your weakness, that you shall be even "more than conquerors."Conclusion:

1. If you neglect your proper work, think not to blame God. He has both given and offered power.

2. If you have it not, you have not asked, or have not employed it.

3. In proportion as you are strengthened, you act. Live, then, near to God.

4. The glory of salvation is the Lord's. You do nothing but in His power.

(R. Watson.)

"Wherefore" links this passage to the whole picture from ver. 6 to ver. 11. Since the mind of Christ is revealed in His incarnation and death and is set before you as an example, work out, etc. Every Christian duty finds its motive and model in Christ. This counsel —


1. That something has been already done. The very phrase "work out" implies this. Salvation has been begun, and is in one sense, a complete thing. We have not to work for salvation, but to accept it.

2. That something more has to be done. The new life has been created, but it must grow or it will die. What is more beautiful than the fervour and rapture of the first love, when young hearts turn to the Saviour as flowers to the light and find in Him their rest and their joy? But this first love may be forsaken. Character having greatly improved may deteriorate, and spiritual health may suffer a relapse. So we are reminded that we must not be merely passive in religion, receiving impressions, drinking in comfort, stimulated from without, but also to be active, cultivating our own powers.

II. THIS SALVATION IS OUR OWN. Something essentially individual between each man and his God. In a sense it is the same in all, and yet it is different. God does not mean your nature to be a copy of any other. One man is impulsive, another is calm; one is bright, another gloomy; one is brave, another like a sensitive plant shrinking from even the breath of opposition. The experience of the gaoler was different from that of Lydia. So it is your own salvation and no one can work it out for you. The battlefield is your own soul, you have to pass through the great crisis of life alone, and you have to die alone.


1. By the acquisition of spiritual truth. It is possible to have our Father's phrases on our lips when we have not the power which lay behind them in our hearts. We are thankful for the wisdom and piety of the past, but a traditional faith will not save us; and while it is unwise to break away from the past, it is unequally unwise to reject the new truth that may be revealed to us. There will then be progress in character. The spiritual truth thus acquired will be the food of the soul.

2. By resolute effort. A man can never become wise or good without trouble. Jesus bids us "strive," and Paul to "fight the good fight," etc. It is not an easy thing to live the Christian life. The religion of sentimentalism, emotion, ritual, may be easy, but the religion of principle means cross bearing and earnest conflict with sin.

3. Even in the absence of means which are important. The presence of the apostle was a help. There is something in the presence of a friend which cannot be written with ink. The Philippians had done well in the apostle's presence; they were to do much more in his absence. Why? To comfort him. As children when their father is from home are taking more care than usual that the windows and doors are properly fastened, so the Christians of Philippi were to be doubly vigilant when Paul was away. External aids are precious, but we must learn to be independent of them when necessary.

IV. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH WE ARE TO DO THE WORK — "with fear and trembling." This Epistle is full of joy; but it is the joy of a reverent and earnest soul. There is abundant reason for caution, self-distrust, modesty, and humility, since so many have fallen, so many Peters denied their Lord, so many Demases forsaken Him. "Be not high minded, but fear."

(James Owen.)


1. The persons to whom these words are addressed. Through applying them to non-Christians they have been perverted to mean: "You cooperate with Christ in the great work of salvation, and you will get grace and pardon." But none save Christians have anything to do with them. They are addressed to those who are already resting on the finished salvation of Jesus Christ. If you have not done so, and are applying them to yourselves, remember that when the Jews came to Christ in a similar spirit, asking Him, "What shall we do?" etc. He said, "This is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." The first lesson is not work but faith, and unless there be faith no work.

2. But if salvation be this, How can we work it out? Salvation has four aspects. It means —(1) The whole process by which we are delivered from sin, and set safe on the right hand of God.(2) Deliverance from the guilt, punishment, and condemnation of sin, in which it is a thing past.(3) The gradual process of deliverance from its power in our own hearts, in which it is a thing present.(4) The final and perfect deliverance, in which it is a thing future. These all come equally from Christ, and depend upon His work and power, and are all given in the first act of faith. But the attitude in which the Christian stands to the accomplished salvation, and that in which He stands to the progressive salvation are different. He has to take the finished blessing. Yet the salvation which means our being delivered from the evil in our hearts is ours on the condition of continuous faithful reception and daily effort.

3. The two things, then, are not inconsistent. Work as well as believe, and in the daily subjugation of your spirits to His Divine power; in the daily crucifixion of your flesh; in the daily straining after loftier heights of godliness and purer atmospheres of devotion and love, make more thoroughly your own what you possess, work into the substance of your souls what you have.

II. GOD WORKS ALL IN US, AND YET WE HAVE TO WORK. Command implies power; command and power imply duty.

1. Is there any cautious guarding of the words that they may not seem to clash with the other side of truth? No. Paul does not say, "Yet" God worketh in you, or "although," or "remember as a caution." He blends the two together in an altogether different connection, and sees no contradiction or puzzle, but a ground of encouragement — "for" God worketh in you. That expresses more than bringing outward means to bear. It speaks of an inward, real, and efficacious operation. God puts in you the first faint motions of a better will. It is not that God gives men the power and leaves them to use it; that the desire and purpose come from Him, and are left with us as faithful or unfaithful stewards. The whole process, from the first sowing of the seed until its last fruiting in action, is God's altogether.

2. And none the less strongly does He teach by His earnest injunction that human control over the human will and that reality of human agency, which are often thought to be annihilated by the view of God as originating all good. The apostle thought this doctrine did not absorb all our individuality in one great cause, which made men mere tools and puppets. His conclusion is God does all, therefore you work.

3. Each of these truths rests on its own appropriate evidence. My own consciousness tells me that I am free, that I have power, that I am therefore responsible. I know what I mean by the will of God, because I am myself conscious of a will. The power of God is an object of intelligent thought to me because I am conscious of power. On the other hand, that belief in God, which is one of the deep and universal beliefs of men, contains in it the belief in Him as the source of all power, who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. These two convictions are both given us in the primitive beliefs which belong to us all. These two mighty pillars, on which all morality and all religion repose, have their foundations deep down in our nature, and tower up beyond our sight. They seem to stand opposite each other, but it is only as the piers of some tall arch are opposed. Beneath they repose on one foundation, above they spring together in the completing keystone, and bear the whole steady structure. Wise and good men have toiled to harmonize them in vain. Perhaps the time may come when we shall be lifted high enough to see the binding arch, but here on earth we can only behold the shafts on either side. Any fancied reconciliation only consists in paring down one half of the full-orbed truth to nothing, or admitting it in words, while every principle of the reeonciler's system demands its denial. Each antagonist is strong in his assertions, and weak in his denials.

4. This apparent incompatibility is no reason for rejecting truths, each commended to our acceptance on their own proper grounds. The Bible admits and enforces both. God is all, but thou canst work. Take this belief that God worketh all in you as the ground of your confidence. Take this conviction that thou canst work for the spur and stimulus of your life.

III. THE CHRISTIAN HAS HIS SALVATION SECURED, AND YET HE IS TO FEAR AND TREMBLE. You may say, "Perfect love casteth out fear." So it does: the fear that hath torment. But there is another fear and trembling which is but another shape of confidence and calm hope. Scripture does tell us that the believing man's salvation is certain since he believes. And your faith can be worth nothing unless it have trembling distrust of your own power, which is the companion of all thankful and faithful reception of God's mercy. Let, then, all fear and trembling be yours as a man; let all confidence and calm trust be yours as a child of God. Turn your confidence and your fears alike into prayer.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

This work is a work —

I. IN YOUR OWN HEART. To obey inwardly; to cherish and cultivate the good feelings which are now in you; to discipline your thoughts, rule your temper, keep your heart in order; to form right habits of daily life; to struggle against your besetting sin; to maintain a Christian spirit.

II. IN THE CLOSET. Every one knows how difficult it is to fulfil faithfully the duties of private prayer, self-examination, and meditation; and to maintain the habit regularly, and to do it spiritually. To get rid of wandering thoughts; not to slide into reverie. To use form without formality. To make his own room a sanctuary, which he never leaves without carrying from it a holier frame and a higher aim.

III. IN YOUR OWN SPHERE. In the family and in business.

IV. IN THE WORK OUTSIDE. No Christian should be without some definite form of Christian work. It may be among the poor, with the sick, or in the Sunday school, etc. In so doing you are working out the salvation you have received. Conclusion: Have you been saved? Then save! Are you loved? Then love! Are you happy? Then make others happy!

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Note —

I. THAT GREAT AND IMPORTANT TRUTH WHICH OUGHT NEVER TO BE OUT OF OUR REMEMBRANCE. "It is God that worketh in us," etc., i.e., "It is of His good pleasure," etc. This removes all imagination of merit from man, and gives God the whole glory of His work. The expression means either —

1. "To will," including the whole of inward; "to do," the whole of outward religion.

2. "To will," implying every good desire; "to do," whatever results therefrom, i.e., God worketh all inward and outward holiness, or God breathes every good desire and brings it to good effect. The original seems to favour the latter; but either is destructive of pride.

II. IF GOD WORKETH IN YOU THEN WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION. "Work out" implies the doing of a thing thoroughly; "your own," you must do it or it will be left undone forever.

1. Salvation(1) begins with preventing grace, including the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning His will.(2) Is carried on by convincing grace or repentance, which brings a larger amount of self-knowledge, etc.(3) Afterwards we experience the proper Christian salvation, whereby through grace we are saved by faith, consisting of two branches. (a) Justification, by which we are saved from the guilt of sin and restored to God's favour, which is instantaneous.(5) Sanctification, by which we are saved from the power and root of sin and restored to the Divine image, and which begins the moment we are justified, and gradually in creases till the heart is cleansed from all sin, and filled with pure love to God and man.

2. How are we to work out this salvation? This is explained by that other passage in which Paul exhorts servants to obey their masters according to the flesh, "with fear and trembling," a proverbial expression! which cannot be under stood literally. For what master could bear, much less require, his servant to stand quaking before him? And the words following utterly exclude this meaning (Ephesians 6:5, etc.). They imply —(1) That everything be done with the utmost earnestness of spirit, and with all care and diligence, perhaps in reference to the former word "fear."(2) With the utmost speed, punctuality, exactness, referring to "trembling." Transfer this to the working out of our salvation. With the same temper and manner that Christians serve their earthly masters, so let Christians serve their heavenly master.

3. What are the steps in this working?(1) Cease to do evil — fly from all sin, abstain from every appearance of evil.(2) Learn to do well — use family and private prayer, search the Scriptures, do good unto all men; and herein "be ye steadfast, unmoveable," etc., and so go on to perfection.

III. WHAT CONNECTION IS THERE BETWEEN THE FORMER AND LATTER PART OF THIS SENTENCE? Is there not a fiat opposition? If God worketh in us, is not our working impracticable and unnecessary? No.

1. God worketh in you, there fore you can work: otherwise it would be impossible. We know that the word is absolutely true, "Without Me ye can do nothing;" but it is equally true that "I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me."

2. God worketh in you, therefore you must work. You must be workers together in Him, or He will cease working. "Unto him that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not" — that doth not improve the grace already given — "shall be taken away what he assuredly hath." He will not save us unless we "save ourselves from this untoward generation," unless we labour to "make our calling and election sure."

(J. Wesley, M. A.)


1. Pardon.

2. Sanctification.

3. Eternal life: the whole benefits of redemption.


1. Negatively(1) That it is not a matter of course that men are saved, because Christ has purchased redemption for them.(2) That salvation is not a benefit which others can confer upon us. Each one must work out his own. No priest can save us.(3) This is not an easy work. Κατεργάζεσθε is a strong word, and this working is to be with fear and trembling, i.e., with solicitude, lest after all we should fail. Our utmost exertion therefore is required. "Strive to enter," etc. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence." Israel, to gain possession of Canaan, had to fight long and hard. No cross, no crown.

2. Positively.(1) Our working must be directed to a right end, not to make atonement or merit salvation by our good works. These are the two errors of all false religions, and men who labour in this direction make no progress. The proper course is to obtain an interest in Christ, and to bring our hearts and lives into conformity with the will of God. If a man thinks it enough to believe in Christ and then live as he pleases, he turns the grace of God into licentiousness. We have to subdue the world, the flesh, and the devil.(2) We must work in accordance with the gospel. Therefore our work must recognize —

(a)The work of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King.

(b)The work of the Holy Ghost.

(c)The efficacy of the means of grace, none of which are to be neglected.(3) It must be assiduous and laborious.


1. That God can, does, and will aid us.

2. That this aid is not merely outward, giving us the means and opportunity, but inward and efficacious, giving us strength and will.

3. There is, therefore, a divine consensus, a cooperation promised, analogous to the working of God in nature, and in those cases in which He gave strength to the palsied or the lame.

4. This Divine cooperation is congruous to the nature of the soul.

5. As it is absolutely necessary it should be sought and relied on.

(C. Hedge, D. D.)

I. MAN'S PART IN SALVATION — i.e., the Christian man's, for the unregenerate have no spiritual germ to work out. We must work energetically — "energize, for it is God who energizes in you." We must act as though everything depended on our own personal efforts. This includes —

1. Untiring diligence, improving every moment; making the best use of every opportunity.

2. Thoroughness, wholeness. Half work will not do (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Mind, heart, body.

3. Fortitude. We must work undaunted by difficulty (Acts 20:23-24).

4. With fear and trembling (Ephesians 6:5). The fear that is begotten by the anxiety to please.


1. "God worketh," which supplies —(1) The motive. The good we do is not our own but God's. The light is not in the window; that is simply the medium through which light passes. The coal burns and throws off light and heat because the sun worked its light and warmth into it thousands of years ago.(2) The power. He who created the heavens, established the rocks, painted the landscape with beauty, works in us; let us, therefore, though Paul and the whole brotherhood of ministers be absent, fail not.(3) The reason. God works in, therefore we should work out.

2. How does God work?(1) In the tree by air, light, heat, rain, and dew, and the tree works out in wood, leaves, and fragrant blossoms.(2) In man by means of His truth, Spirit, and grace, and we work them out in love, joy, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23).

3. God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. He does this that He may accomplish His gracious purpose in the salvation of mankind — "for God willeth all men to be saved."

(D. R. Jenkins.)


1. That we, while in our natural state, are lost creatures, liable to perish forever. Our being bid to work out our salvation, supposing this to be our antecedent condition, may well keep us humble as long as we live.

2. That there is a way open by which we may be delivered from that condition, for we had never been enjoined thus had we been doomed to perish (vers. 6-8; John 3:16).

3. That God is very desirous of their salvation to whom this command is sent (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11).


1. As fallen creatures, our first work is to get our state changed, and not to rest satisfied till we are restored to the favour and image of God. Here our salvation in the application of it begins. And with what earnestness should it be laboured after by every one who loves his safety.

2. In a state of grace, but as yet imperfect in attainments. The work of our salvation includes the mortifying of the remains of our corruption in us, the resisting of temptations, the making additions to grace received, and our pressing on to glory. And how much has a Christian to do, as to all these? (2 Peter 1:10; Philippians 3:12-14).

3. As mortal and dying out of the world, the work of salvation includes our preparing for a removal from it, and laying up treasure in another.


1. In which the soul is to be engaged. Bodily service profiteth nothing alone.

2. In which we are to engage with the greatest intentness.

3. In which the utmost watchfulness is necessary, considering the deceitfulness of the heart, the temptations of Satan, the instances of many who have miscarried.

4. In which the appointed means are to be employed.

5. In which we are to persevere, as he only who endures to the end will be saved.


1. It is God who works in us to will and to do.(1) Man is naturally averse to the business of his salvation. How plain is this command and how strongly urged, but how few can be prevailed upon to set about it!(2) When this aversion is overcome it is God that does it.(a) He touches and turns the will, and by His renewing grace brings His people to love and choose what they previously disliked, and thus He of unwilling makes them willing (Ezekiel 36:26).(b) He excites that grace which He implants, and thus both the disposition and the act is owing to influence from heaven (Song of Solomon 1:4). As to His method, usually God —(i) Opens their souls to their lost and miserable state (John 16:8).(ii) He holds their thoughts close to what is thus discovered as matter of the highest moment, not to be made light of as heretofore.(iii) By such discovery and view our impression is made upon the conscience, so that the sinner can no longer rest in his present state.(

iv) The awakened sinner is led to importunately inquire what he must do to be saved (Acts 2:30; Acts 16:36).

5. The inquirer is reasonably instructed in the gospel method of salvation (John 3:16).

6. Salvation being represented as attainable the sinner under Divine influence is led to desire, hope, choose, believe.

2. God works of His good pleasure.(1) 'Tis of His sovereign grace that He works in any; without any constraint or need on His part; without, nay contrary to any merit in ours.(2) In whomsoever God works they are to own it a gracious vouchsafement, one to be highly prized and improved.


1. What reason have we from God's working in us to excite ourselves to work out our salvation. It makes it —(1) Reasonable. His hand is stretched out to pluck you as brands from the burning, let it not be overlooked; His presence is vouchsafed to help the soul to heaven, let it not be slighted.(2) Possible. However difficult the work, the Divine worker is working within.(3) Hopeful. What room is there for despondency when God undertakes the design, begins the work, and works on if you do not break off?(4) Delightful. When God draws the believer runs.

2. We are to work because of the manner of God's working, viz., His good pleasure.(1) It is certain that without God's working we can do nothing.(2) Perhaps we long neglected the work, and therefore how justly might the Divine favour have been withdrawn.(3) How much yet remains to be done, and the time allotted is uncertain and short.Application:

1. Behold the folly of sin.

2. See the mercy of God.

3. How unreasonable despair.

4. How inexcusable the finally lost.

(D. Wilcox.)


1. Freedom from our misery.

(1)Guilt of sin (Galatians 3:22; Matthew 1:20).

(2)Strength of corruption (Romans 7:24; Acts 3:26).

(3)Power of Satan (1 Peter 5:8).

(4)Wrath of God (Psalm 8:11).

(5)Eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

2. Advancement to happiness:(1) In this life, consisting in God's love to us (Psalm 30:5) and our love to Him.(2) In the life to come — consisting in the perfection of our souls (Hebrews 12:23) and in the enjoyment of God (John 17:5, 24).


1. Our making use of all the means appointed by God for this end (Matthew 6:33).

2. Continuing the use of them until we have attained the end (Acts 13:43; Romans 12:12).


1. Not with pride (1 John 1:1-8).

2. Nor presumption (Psalm 19:13).

3. Nor carnal security (1 Peter 5:8).

4. But with a holy fear.(1) Lest we should go the wrong way, or make use of the wrong means (Romans 10:2).(2) Lest we should fail in the use of the right means (Hebrews 4:1).

(Bishop Beveridge.)

I. THE ONE GREAT THING WHICH A MAN HATH TO DO IS TO WORK OUT HIS OWN SALVATION. To clear up the nature of this work, consider —

1. It is not to be done by the way, but with all our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10; 2 Peter 1:10).

2. All our other works are to be referred to this (1 Corinthians 10:31).

3. We cannot do it by our own strength (Jeremiah 10:23; 2 Corinthians 3:5). Why, then, doth God command us to do it?(1) God's commands show not our ability but duty.(2) God, by His commands, puts us upon doing what we can, depending on Him for the rest.(3) God by His commands enables us to do it (Genesis 1:3; John 5:6; John 11:43; Acts 3:6).(4) None can enable us to do it but; God (ver. 13; 2 Corinthians 3:5).(5) We have no ground to expect strength from God to do it, but through Christ (John 15:5).(6) We must not do in our own way but God's (Isaiah 8:20).(7) This is the one thing needful (Luke 10:42).(8) It is the most honourable work we can be employed in (Proverbs 12:26).(9) It is not to be begun only but finished (John 17:4).


1. This is the end of our continuance on the earth.

2. God calls on us to do it (Ezekiel 33:11), and commands (Acts 17:30).

3. He hath shown us how to do it (Micah 6:8).

4. He hath offered us the means (Jeremiah 7:25).

5. He hath promised to enable us in the use of those means to do it (Matthew 18:20).

6. All His providences tend to it (Job 36:8-10).

7. And so do His ordinances.


1. Begin it(1) with knowledge (1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 1:7).

2. Repentance; consisting in(1) a sense of sin (John 16:8).

(a)Original (Psalm 51:5);

(b)actual (Psalm 51:3-4); in our thoughts (Genesis 6:5); affections (2 Timothy 3:3-4); words (Matthew 12:36); actions.

(c)Habitual (Jeremiah 13:23).(2) A sorrow for sin.

(a)Cordial (Joel 2:13).

(b)Universal (Ezekiel 9:4).

(c)Exceeding all other sorrow (Zechariah 12:10-11).(3) A hating of sin (Psalm 139:21-22.(4) A firm resolution against sin (Psalm 17:3; Psalm 119:106).(5) A constant endeavour to perform those resolutions with faith (Acts 16:31).(a) Assenting to the Scripture in general (Acts 24:14; 2 Timothy 3:26), viz., that the assertions are all truths (Hebrews 6:18); that the history is certain; the commands Divine (Romans 7:12-14); the promises performed; the threatenings executed.(b) Assenting to the gospel in particular, viz., that Christ is the Son of God; truly man; the promised Messiah; the only Saviour; our meritorious substitute; our prevailing intercessor.(c) Applying these truths to ourselves (James 2:29); that He is our Lord and God (John 20:28); our Saviour and Redeemer; our Advocate (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).

2. We must carry on this work —

(1)By increasing in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).

(2)By renewing our repentance (Psalm 25:7; 1 Corinthians 15:9).

(3)Renewing acts of faith.

(4)Watchfulness over our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).

(5)Frequent exercise of our graces.

3. We must finish this work (John 17:4).

(1)By mortifying all our sins (2 Timothy 4:7; Revelation 4:12, 21).

(2)Continuing in the performance of all duties (1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 3:11).

(3)Persevering in all places (2 Timothy 4:7).


1. This is the work you came about.

2. You have comfort of no other works (Romans 6:21).

3. All other works are sin till this be set about (Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 21:4, 27; Isaiah 66:3).

4. Till this be done, ye are incapable of any mercy (Matthew 2:2).

5. Subject to all misery —

(1)The curse of the law (Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 28:15-16).

(2)The wrath of God (Psalm 6:11).

6. Even in this life this is the best work —(1) Most pleasant (Proverbs 3:17).

(a)Here we exercise our best parts (Matthew 9:29).

(b)Set them on their proper objects.

(c)Employ them to their proper end.(2) Most honourable (Proverbs 12:26).

(a)As the persons we converse with.

(b)As to the employment itself.(3) Most profitable. Hereby we attain

(a)the most real riches (Proverbs 23:5; Luke 8:18).

(b)Most satisfying (Isaiah 55:1-2).

(c)Most lasting (1 Timothy 6:17).

7. All the power we have of doing anything was given us to do this.

8. Unless this work is done we are undone forever (Luke 13:3).

9. If this be done, we shall be happy.

(1)In our freedom from evil (Revelation 14:13).

(2)In our enjoyment of all good.


1. I have no time.

(1)What hast thou any time for but for this?

(2)Thou hast time for other things (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2).

2. We know not how to do this work. I have told you.

3. It is hard work.

(1)It is feasible.

(2)It is not hard in itself, but our sins make it so (Matthew 11:30).

(3)Do what you can, and God will enable you to do the rest.

(4)Be but willing, and the work is easy (1 John 5:3).

(5)Whatsoever pains you take will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).


1. Your own salvation. Charity must begin at home. You ought to spread the truth, but you must first understand it. Ploughing another man's field, don't neglect your own; indicating to another the mote in his eye, do not permit a beam to blind your own.

2. What is to be worked out must first be worked in. An unconverted man can work nothing out, for there is nothing in. You have faith; work it out then; act like a believer; trust God in daily life. Be you Christlike, inasmuch as the Spirit of Christ dwells in you.

3. Salvation is to be worked out. Holiness is salvation. We are not to work out our salvation from the guilt of sin; Christ has done that, but from the power of sin. God has in effect worked that in; He has broken the yoke of sin; it lives and struggles, but it is dethroned, and our life is to keep it down. A man may be saved from the guilt of sin, and yet not saved from the power of pride or bad temper. Your salvation is not complete till you are saved from these. You must fight them till you conquer.


1. Every artist requires some idea in his mind to which he is to work. The apostle's model is exhibited in the context.

(1)Unanimity (ver. 2);

(2)humiliation (ver. 3);

(3)mutual love;

(4)in a word, the mind of Christ (ver. 5).


1. An energetic spirit. From the Greek word "work" we get our word energy. The bringing out of the new nature requires this, inasmuch as it is a mark of superlative difficulty. God works in, therefore we must work out. The assistance of Divine grace is not given to put aside our own efforts, but to assist them.

2. With fear to offend so good a God of which we read, Blessed is the man who feareth always.

3. With trembling. Before the Lord we do not tremble with affright, but with holy awe, lest we should sin and grieve the Spirit.


1. Help

(1)in an exercise beyond your power.

(2)All sufficient for every emergency.

(3)Which enables you to receive Divine help.

(4)Which shall be more than equal to the power of Satan and all your corruptions.

2. God works in us to will — gives us the desire for holiness, the resolution to put down sin, the stern resolve not to fall into sin again, and He who gave the desire will surely finish it.

3. God does not leave you then; He gives you the power to do, to achieve the victory; therefore fear not.

4. That which He works in you is pleasing in His sight.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. We must be personally active. Salvation cannot be wrought otherwise.

2. This activity must amount to vigorous, sustained working. No excellence anywhere without it.

3. This activity is to be centred on our own salvation.

II. GOD WORKETH IN US both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

1. As the first clause seems to throw the work wholly on man, this seems to throw it entirely on God

2. He regulates inclination and action — the motive and the deed.

3. This He does benevolently.

III. THE CONSISTENCY OF THESE PROPOSITIONS. Salvation is of God as respects supreme agency, while our part in it is merely instrumental and subordinate. The atonement is the whole ground of our acceptance. God the Holy Spirit works in us, enabling us to believe the gospel, and purifying our heart by faith. He, however, does not work separately from us, nor control and compel. We, too, are occupied. He works by us as well as in us.


1. From the importance of the work. In small matters men are at ease. There is not enough to engage fully the mind. But no work in its character and issues can compare with this.

2. From the character of the Agent working in us. In conclusion: this subject is

(1)encouraging to the timid,

(2)stimulating to the torpid.

(D. King, LL. D.)


1. Sovereign and free. God's self-existence and independence render it impossible that He should be subject to foreign control, or to any considerations but those that are suggested by His own mind. But His proceedings are not arbitrary or capricious. His reasons are always the wisest, best, and most benevolent.

2. Secret, imperceptible, and only to be discovered by its effect. With what rapidity does He wheel the earth round its axis, and carry it in its annual revolution; and these movements could never have been discovered but by careful observation. When at the approach of spring the fields are arrayed in their beautiful vesture, you cannot see God raising the sap through root and fibre, along stem and branch, and unfolding each bud and blossom. So in salvation. No shout of angelic hosts announces that God has commenced operations; and though we know there is joy in their presence, we can only see the ground of their joy in individual repentance. While the world is stunning us with its noise, and the Christian labourer may be complaining, "Who hath believed our report?" God may be quietly inspiring multitudes to ask, "What must I do?" etc.

3. Mighty. God's system of operations is no languid series of efforts. The same expression is used with reference to the Divine power which raised Christ from the dead, and which binds all things in the universe to work according to the purpose of His own will. This same power is exerted in our recovery.(1) The obstacles to be surmounted demonstrate this: the mountain of pride and self-righteousness to be laid low; the prejudices to be swept away; the enmity and resistance to be overcome.(2) So do the changes to be effected; the careless are to be made careful; slaves of sin are to be transformed into children of God. Who, then, can hesitate to apply for this succour, and who can despond who has it?

4. In conformity with the principles of our nature. God always adapts His procedure to the nature of the objects on which He works. You may produce considerable alteration by culture, soil, and climate, but you can never change the distinctive properties of one animal or plant for those of another. So in salvation our faculties remain as they were; but we have new aims, inclinations, purposes, and pursuits.(1) God does not alter our absolute dependence upon Him as the creatures of His hand. He may increase our obligations; but from the first step in the narrow way to the last it is, "Not I, but the grace of God."(2) God does not interfere with the freedom He has bestowed, and the consequent responsibility under which we are placed. We find that men exercise great influence over our minds not only by mighty considerations and powerful arguments, but by enlisting our sympathies, and enkindling within us their own ardour. Our minds thereby are strengthened, mot enfeebled by the impulse thus given to us. And so God operates with like results.(3) God does not supersede the use of the powers and faculties He has conferred. He does not take our places or work in our stead. There is no promise that He will pray, repent, etc., for us. He worketh in us, affords His gracious protection and omnipotent aid, not to lull our powers into lethargy, but to stir them up to persevering efforts.

5. The tendency and aim of the Divine influence.(1) To will refers to those determinations to which the mind cordially comes after a full consideration of its state in the sight of God and of the overtures of mercy made to it. It is implied that these are full and unwavering; for to will is more than to wish. Many good wishes never proceed further; the will contradicts them all.(2) To do which enables us to reduce determinations to practice. They may be strong and firm, and yet delayed and laid aside and forgotten. It is not enough to be convinced of sin; we must make application for pardon, and trust in Christ's merits. We must not satisfy our minds that Christ's precepts are good; we must run in the path of His commandments.

II. THE DUTY IMPOSED BY THIS DOCTRINE. "Work out your," etc. We have here a summons.

1. To begin in the work. Men say, "Why trouble ourselves; until God stretch forth His hand and break the chain of our sins, it would be useless for us to make the attempt." This is to pervert the grace of God to our sure destruction, and to turn into an argument for indolent indifference the most powerful incentive to exertion. The Bible brings Christ's message to men. It beseeches universal acceptance. With the external message the dispensations of providence have concurred to warn off the folly and peril of delay, and to urge instant acceptance.

2. To carry on the work. It is not enough to begin the course; we must persevere. And there is much to be worked out: love of sin, evil habits have to be extirpated, the love of God to be intensified, closer conformity to our great Pattern to be attained. The consideration that God worketh in you leaves you without excuse for negligence and without ground for despondency.

3. The work is to be carried out with fear and trembling; with the reverence and godly fear which love inspires — "With that man will I dwell who is of a humble and contrite spirit," etc.

(R. Redpath, M. A.)

I. HUMAN AGENCY in things which concern salvation.


1. Its reality.(1) Christian character begins by Divine agency; for it begins in regeneration, which is unquestionably the work of God.(2) It is maintained by the same, for God works in His people to will and to do.

2. Its necessity.(1) From the corruption of human nature. Were man naturally inclined to what is good, a counteracting influence would be superfluous.(2) From the temptations to evil, which necessitate Divine protection.

3. Its source — the Divine will. God works because "of His good pleasure." He chooses to work.(1) Not arbitrarily in the sense of capriciously. We are assured from a consideration of the wisdom, rectitude, love, and unchangeableness of God that for all His doings there are adequate reasons.(2) Not arbitrary in the sense of having no law. His own perfection supplies laws, which, like their sources, are perfect, and in conformity with them He uniformly acts.

4. Its effect. God works in His people.(1) To will, under which term we understand desires, intentions, resolutions, and affections. This Divine energy does not impair our will. We are conscious of acting at all times as we will, and never more so than when we seek the things of God. "I have chosen the way of truth, incline my heart," etc.(2) To do. The effect should never be disjoined from the cause, nor the cause from the effect. It is not God works in us, therefore we need not work; but therefore we work.

III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO. Both are matter of fact, and must be believed as facts whatever may be our opinion of their relation.(1) A theory which should harmonize them would supply no additional reason for believing the facts.(2) The absence of such theory affords no warrant for disbelieving them.

2. A knowledge of the point is unattainable, since it is none other than the manner in which the Infinite mind acts on created minds. We have three sources of knowledge.(1) Consciousness; the knowledge of what passes in our own minds affords no assistance.(2) Observation; the cognizance of what comes before the senses avails us nothing.(3) No testimony but what is Divine could make us acquainted with the subject, and none has been given.

3. But while we know nothing of the internal working of the Infinite mind, we know something of the methods. God's gracious influence on the soul very much consists in His causing clear and realizing apprehensions of things as they are to abide in the mind. For this purpose He removes hindrances which prevent Divine truth from being known and considered, and consequently from yielding its appropriate fruit.(1) Inattention. The person whose heart the Lord opens attends to the things that are spoken.(2) Pride. God shows man things as they are, himself abominable, God excellent.(3) Love of the world. "Things which are seen," being "temporal," appear, as they actually are, next to nothing in comparison with the "things which are not seen and eternal." Thus trust in God, love to God, hope of heaven, etc., are called into habitual exercise, the will directed to God and goodness, and the conduct proportionably changed for the better. Conclusion: The subject affords materials for —

1. Examination. We may learn from it whether our creed and our practice in relation to the topics discussed are scriptural or erroneous.(1) Are you rendered careless respecting your affections and conduct by the consideration that God worketh in you?(2) Are you disposed on the other hand to think lightly of the Divine influence?

2. Encouragement to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, but are conscious of their moral weakness. The very desire is a proof that God has done much for you, and a pledge that He will do more.

(G. Burder, M. A.)

I. THE NATURE OF SALVATION. It is something to be worked out, a moral process in man himself. On the one hand it is the overcoming and casting out of evil, and on the other the assimilation and development of good. It is restoration from disease to health. The man who is undergoing salvation is both cured and nourished. This is the result of the joint work of God and man — man being able to do his part because God works, and God's working requiring man's work.

II. Paul's putting of the matter is in perfect agreement with the scientific law THAT GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT ARE DEPENDENT ON THE DUE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE THING THAT HAS TO GROW AND A FITTING ENVIRONMENT. To this biological law all living things are subject. Take, e.g., a corn of wheat: until it is acted on by a fitting environment it can neither grow nor produce fruit. The grains of wheat found in Egyptian mummies might have been thought dead. Yet no sooner were they sown in appropriate soil than they began to grow, simply because they were duly acted on by a fitting environment. Some of them, while the same in appearance with the rest, were dead; they rotted and disappeared because they were incapable of reacting in response to their environment. The first movement proceeds from the surroundings; then follows the response of the germ. Or take our body. Unless we are blessed with sunshine, breathe pure air, eat nourishing food, etc., we can neither develope, nor retain our health. The same principle holds good in disease. A cure depends on proper action from without by medicine or diet. If there is nothing in them to affect our condition, we go from bad to worse, and if our condition is so bad that the medicine works no responsive action, our case is equally hopeless.

III. WHAT IS THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS INTERACTION? Is the organism pushed like a ball set in motion? No. Our environment acts on us by becoming food to us, and light, air, heat, as well as bread and water, are food. And food feeds us by becoming one with us, and energizing in us. "They work in you to will and to do." But the power in the food cannot become ours without our effort. We must at least be able to digest. If we cannot do that the most nutritious food will not save us from death. Here again we may say, "Work physically, for it is food that worketh," etc. The same with medicine. Our phrase is, "Has it begun to work?" But the entire man is subject to this great law, man not only as a physical but as a spiritual being.

IV. GOD IS THE ULTIMATE ENVIRONMENT OF OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE, as light and air and food to our body. Therefore, unless He act upon us it is impossible that we should act, nor can His action have any result unless we respond and cooperate. And He does not merely influence us from without, give us commands or present motives; He enters and His energy becomes ours, in virtue whereof we cart will or do. But we must lay hold of Him and assimilate His energy. God can no more become our spiritual light, life, and strength without receptive action than undigested bread can be the staff of life.

V. THAT WHICH IS TRUE OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE IN GENERAL IS EMPHATICALLY TRUE OF IT AS ENFEEBLED AND DARKENED BY SIN. Unless God come to our help the weakness and darkness cannot be overcome; but equally hopeless is our case unless we receive His help. If we are so far gone in moral corruption that no function of our spiritual being can come into action, anything that God does will no mere avail us than light and water a plant that has withered. God must interfere, and we must open our nature to His influences. He moves first, but there must be a corresponding movement on our side. What is this but what Paul says in the text.

VI. WE ARE SO CONSTITUTED BY GOD THAT WE CANNOT BE SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY WITHOUT HIM. This always was, is, and will be the case. Man's moral weakness and corruption are rooted in the refusal to let God work in him, in the resolve to be self-sufficient. Man without God is like an organism without nourishment. What a starving man is such is the spiritual man without God. Now suppose you went to relieve such a starving man, and he were to say, "I cannot accept your food till I am stronger," you would exclaim, "How can you expect to be strong without food? Can you feed on yourself?" No less absurd is our behaviour in regard to salvation. God is waiting to do His part. You, also, in secret, want to do yours, but you cannot without Him. VII. THOSE WHO HAVE BEGUN TO WORK OUT THEIR SALVATION FIND THAT THEIR ONLY SALVATION IS IN GOD. It is not merely that He must help you now and then. Continuous trust and fellowship are the only safety.

(Principal Simon.)

I. THE DUTY — "Work." The estate of a Christian is a working not idle estate. Christianity is not verbal profession nor speculative (John 13:17).

1. Works of preparation are those that prepare men to believe, as hearing, reading, meditating.

2. From these a Christian ought to proceed to —

(1)Works of piety, faith, hope, prayer, and —

(2)works of charity.

3. The use of all this is to give us a right conceit of religion. Many are good talkers, and yet never come one step towards salvation.


1. Obediently. "As ye have obeyed." Whatever we do it must be in obedience to God. Then(1) We must know what God's will is (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:10).(2) This must be to all God's laws. Partial obedience is no obedience (Psalm 119:10).

2. Sincerely. "Whether I am present or not." God sees you. The Pharisees obeyed to be seen of men (Matthew 6:2, 6). Joash was a good king as long as Jehoida lived; but a good Christian is ever good, in all places, occasions, companies.

3. Laboriously. "Work out." No perfunctory thing can please God.

4. Constantly — not like morning dew, or Lot's wife who turned back (Luke 1:75; John 17:4; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). To this end —(1) We must come with a resolution not to be scared from the performance of duties, and therefore to be furnished with patience (Hebrews 10:36; Galatians 6:9).(2) We must consider the promises (Revelation 3:21; Matthew 10:22).

5. It must tend to salvation. We must go on in a constant course of goodness that we may come to the end of our faith. For salvation is begun here, and the state of grace here is called salvation, even as well as the state hereafter. All conclusions are to be reduced to their principles, and so all is to be reduced to salvation as the mare principle. Do we sanctify all things by prayer (Colossians 3:24).


1. The example of Christ. "Wherefore." Christ did all in obedience to God, etc.

2. The apostle's love. Christians should take good courses, that they may comfort those that are good.

3. The possibility of it. You have gone so far; keep on.

4. The end. Salvation. Considering we are not yet perfect, we are encouraged to go on to perfection (Titus 2:11; Hebrews 11:26).


1. Fear is an affection planted by God in our natures, whereby we, foreseeing dangers which may hinder our being or well being, are afraid of them. This is a spiritual fear.

(1)A fear of reverence, which is a fear mixed with love, wherein we stand in awe of God's greatness but love Him for His goodness.

(2)A fear of watchfulness.

(3)Of jealousy, lest we should offend God.

2. God loves not the careless Christian.

3. All things must be done in this fear, or we shall come short of our salvation.


II. THIS POWER WE HAVE NOT FROM OURSELVES BUT FROM GOD. Some things are done for us which were neither wrought by us nor in us, e.g., Christ's death. Some things are wrought in us not by us, as our first work of conversion. Other things are wrought in us, and by us, such as all good works after conversion. The will is wrought in us by God as we be His temples, and the deed is wrought by us as instruments of God's inward working.

III. THIS WORK OF GOD IN US IS A POWERFUL WORK. He gives to us to will that which He wills.

IV. THIS WORK IS INWARD, NOT WITHOUT. He uses exhortations, etc., but He puts power to these to prevail.

V. THE PERFECTION OF THIS WORK (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6).

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)


II. THE EMOTIONAL ELEMENT — "With fear and trembling."

1. This is not slavish, but reverential fear.

2. We should have "fear and trembling."(1) Because of our accountability. Soon we may hear it said, "Give an account of thy stewardship."(2) Because of the danger of losing souls.(3) Because of our fallibility, we may teach error, and thus be "blind guides."

III. THE SUPERNATURAL ELEMENT" — "It is God that worketh," etc.

(A. J. Furman.)

This sentence falls from Paul as easy and natural as his breath. It is a casual remark, true, but not combating any specific error; a simple exhortation to earnestness, with the assurance of Divine cooperation. But what Paul said in this casual way has been caught up by opposing schools, turned to a use he never dreamed of, crowded with a meaning he did not intend, made the rallying cry of theological champions, and a very body of divinity. Arminian and Calvinist have seized it, cut it in two, emphasized each his own word in it according to his philosophy, and thus equipped fought each other for two hundred years over a doctrine of faith and works. The text teaches —

I. THAT SALVATION IS AN ACHIEVEMENT. What is here meant by salvation.

1. Negatively.(1) Not anything done by Christ in the way of expiation.(2) Not getting to heaven. A man does not enter heaven to find salvation, but because he has it.(3) Not an immediate work wrought in some hour of deep feeling. What is then done is an important but small part of salvation.

2. Positively. It is a moral process in which time and effort are chief factors.(1) If a man has any sinful habits, he must overcome them; or lacks and weaknesses, he must supply the deficiency.(2) And then there is the great reality of character — a needed group of qualities that only comes about by elaboration.


1. Every man is bound by every consideration to undertake this work. He is here to do this very thing.

2. When he comes upon the stage he finds evil, and his work is to east it out and bring in good. No evil goes out of itself. No nation and no man ever grew into virtue or dropped evil as a tree drops dead leaves.

3. Look at the world and its history — tell me if a single gain has been made that did not turn on the overthrow of some positive evil with pain and effort.

4. Let every man ask himself, Am I saving myself? I am ignorant, etc. I find in myself hereditary evil. I have contracted evil habits. I am passing on from day to day without communion with God, doing nothing for humanity. Am I striving to escape from that broad road to destruction?

III. THE TWO-FOLD PROCESS. Work it out, for God works it in.

1. No other influence can touch a man like God's. When I give you my hand it is in part my strength that upholds you. When you cheer me I am leaning on your inspiration. But when God works in a man to will and to work, the union of wills is so close, that separate threads of influence cannot be detected. It often hurts a man to be helped by others; it never hurts him to be helped by God.

2. The importance of this two-fold process.(1) Suppose God were left out and man saved himself, overcame his weakness and faults, and so trained his faculties as to become a wise and good man. What sort of a man would you have? assuredly a conceited one who will at last become a selfish one. A man cannot isolate himself in sharp individuality from God and live.(2) Suppose that God saved a man without any effort of his own: that He shut up the path of evil, and by some Divine alchemy whitened the passive soul, the result would be worse than in the previous case.

3. Now suppose again the reunion of God and man in the work of salvation. When a man recognizes that God is at the bottom of all his work, he is led straight up to the exercise of every element of His character. Then he becomes reverent, and reverence is one half of character. Along with this comes humility — the soil of all the virtues. And as the man comes more and more to feel that God is in him he is swept into the current of God's own thought and feelings, and so he loves as God loves; and all the patience, tenderness, truth, and majesty of God work in him, subduing him into their quality.

(T. T. Manger.)

I.SECRETLY — "in you."

II.MEDIATELY — by His Word.

III.MIGHTILY — by His Spirit.

IV.GRACIOUSLY — Of His good pleasure.

V.EFFECTUALLY — to will and to do.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The word κατεργαζεσθαι, "to apply oneself to," properly signifies to do, to work, to labour, and is taken in two ways in the Scripture; sometimes to express to polish, form, and fashion a rough and raw thing, as when a carpenter cuts and polishes wood, and a mason stones, which they desire to employ in their work; and in this sense we may say that God makes us when He creates us in His Son, stripping us of this vile and miserable form of sinners and slaves of Satan, in which we are born, and giving us another, holy and glorious, by which we become His children, precious and lively stones, and fit to enter into the building of His temple, from vile and dead stones, which we were by nature. The other, more common, signification of this word is, to accomplish, perfect, and finish a thing already commenced, to execute it and guide it to its end; as when the apostle says, in Romans 7:18, that "to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not;" and when he says besides, in Romans 4, it "worketh wrath," because it completes in us the feeling of the wrath of God against sin, which without is weak and languid, the light of nature alone without the law only exciting and beginning it in us.

(J. Daille)

A clock presents a beautiful emblem of Christianity. When in good order it is always going, and one wheel propels another and even so must true Christianity be in continual exercise, and every act of godliness make way for the next. As a clock, however, needs to be constantly inspected, and frequently set and cleaned, so God, in His faithfulness and long suffering, has continual work to do, amending, purifying, and regulating our Christianity.

(T. H. Leary, D. C. L.)

A man's salvation is to be wrought out as an artist works out a picture. It is a good thing for a man to make a charcoal sketch; but it will not do to stop at that. It is a good thing that refers to something better that is coming on. He may put in the dead colours, and so make an advance, but it is not an advance which fits the picture to be put up in a gallery for admiration. He may add particular features, and thus make a further advance; but suppose a man were painted perfectly up to his nose, and all the rest were left blank, what sort of a picture would he make? Suppose one of a man's eyes were accurately painted, and the other were all blurred, what would be the effect? Things are good according as they conform to an ideal in the line of progress or development. So whatever tends to educate a man's conscience, to unfold his reason, to enlarge his moral sensibilities, to fill him with the graces of the Spirit, is beneficial; a benefit in that direction may be called works — not condemned works, but works that are efficacious.

(H. W. Beecher.)

You are to work it out. It must be presented to the eye; it is not to be like the works of a watch that are elaborately finished and then concealed in a case. The words imply that there is something in the Christian's heart has to be brought out, and that only work can develope it. A mechanic takes a bar of iron. He knows there is brightness in its nature, so he places it in his lathe, and by means of cutters, files, and other instruments the black or rusty bar is made so bright that it dazzles the eye with its shining surface. And there is that in the heart of every Christian which worked out would delight all that knew him. "Let your light so shine," etc.

(D. R. Jenkins.)

William Wickham being appointed by King Edward to build a stately church, wrote in the windows, "This work made William Wickham." When charged by the king for assuming the honour of that work to himself as the author, whereas he was only the overseer, he answered that he meant not that he made the work, but that the work made him, having before been very poor, and then in great credit. Lord, when we read in thy Word that we must work out our own salvation, thy meaning is not that our salvation should be the effect of our work, but our work the evidence of our salvation.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Like the man in the old heathen fable, condemned to roll a ball up a steep hill, no sooner do we gain a step, than sin tries by its own weight to roll down again and drag us with it. Like our countrymen at the heights of the Alma, the repentant Christian has to force his way upwards to the skies in the face of enemies already entrenched in strong position in his heart, and like them he can only ensure success by the exercise of a vigorous will, assisted in the spiritual warfare by Him who is "mighty to save."

(G. Huntington, M. A.)

Cast a sponge into water, and, the fluid filling its empty cells, it swells out before our eyes; increases more and more. There is no effort here, and could be none; for though once a living animal, the sponge is now dead and dry. But it is not as sponges fill with water, nor, to use a Scripture figure often employed, and sometimes misapplied, as Gideon's fleece was filled with daws, that God's people are replenished with His grace. More is needed than simply to bring ourselves in contact with ordinances; to read the Bible; to repair on Sabbath to the Church; to sit down in communion seasons at the Lord's table. The babe, for example, is laid in a mother's arms, and in contact with her breast; but is laid there only to die, unless, with slumbering instincts awakened, it fastened and suck by its own efforts the nourishment provided for it, independent of itself; and there, drawing life from a mother's bosom, it lies in her loving arms, the symbol of him who hangs by faith in Christ, and, fed on the sincere milk of the word, is nourished up into the likeness and image of God.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Just as the same electricity that flashes like an avenging sword from the cloud, and that lightens from one side of heaven to the other, also trembles in the dew drop, and flies along the wire, carrying news from one continent to another: so the Divine Power that binds all holy beings in chains of loyalty and love to the throne of the eternal, and that breaks the bond of our captivity, and raises us to a state of spiritual enlargement and fellowship, also enables us to discharge the smallest duties and the common daily responsibilities of the Christian life. "Christ is all, and in all," in every duty, in every service.

(James Owen.)

The face of the helmsman in coming down the rapids of the St. Lawrence in the great vessel is a sight to see. He takes in, as it were, all the conditions of the case, in one inevitable glance — the bank; the bend; the shallowing or deepening bed; the amount of way on the vessel; the hurry of the waters; the calm spread of the deep river lying like a peaceful haven yonder in the distance! There he stands — fearful, yet firm — distrustful, yet confident — until the danger is past. With a similar feeling — not slavishly afraid — but intent, earnest, bending all the powers in concentrated effort towards the ultimate object — so "work out your salvation."

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Did you ever have committed to your care something exceedingly rare and precious; something of singular beauty or untold value? Did you ever come into the possession of something long and ardently desired, which you had thought to be too good, too sweet, too lovable ever to be really yours, your very own? Was not there an awe, almost a terror in the sense of that possession? Did you not say to yourself, "Who am I that I should have this? What if I should let it drop? What if I should lose it?" Did not the very joy make you "afraid" and your happiness make you "tremble"? There is another cause of "fear" and "trembling!" You are working with Omnipotence, it is an awful thing working with God! What a responsibility! What a position for a man, a poor sinner, to be in! "What if my shortcomings and sins should deprive me at last of that friendship, and turn His very kindness into a curse! The thought may well make me 'fear and tremble!'" And how tremendous is the issue at stake! To have been once saved; to have stood on that high and blessed position; to have tasted that peace, and then to lose it all! Oh! what bitter self-reproach forever! What a wrong done to my own dear kind Saviour! What an aggravation to my time of misery!

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Sunlight is universal; it shines everywhere; but when you bring it to bear upon your plants in greenhouses you specialize it. The black Hamburg grape you cannot raise out of doors, although there is sunlight there. You build glass houses; you so arrange them that the sun's rays fall upon the vines; you secure the conditions required for their growth, and the consequence is Chat you have fruit. You specialize the sunlight by the skill of the gardener. There are certain latitudes in which given results cannot be obtained by sunlight without specializing it. The Divine influence is diffused upon the good and the bad alike, just as sunlight is; but when men understand it and accept it by the force of their own will, putting themselves in the line of God's nature, it becomes special to them, and works in them both to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The Divine influence is to the human will what the atmosphere is to the eye and to the ear, and what that which is taken into the mouth is to the tongue. If it were not for the atmosphere and its vibrations the eye would perish; it would have nothing to do; for although it is an organ for seeing, it cannot see in and of itself. The ear is an organ for hearing, but the ear cannot hear of itself. It must have outside pulsations beating upon it. The tongue cannot taste unless it has something of which to taste. When a seed is planted in good soil it is given over to the sun; and when the sun undertakes to care for a plant it always keeps its eye on the blossom and the fruit which it is to unfold. It is not enough that it develops stem, branches, and flowers. The tendency of the sun is to bring everything up to its ultimate consummation. So the tendency of the Divine Spirit is to draw men up steadily through the whole range of their faculties till they blossom.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Suppose that you were involved in temporal difficulties, that a benevolent friend came forward to pay your debts, and place you in a better position than you had ever occupied, would you argue, "Well, I need not care how wasteful I become, or how heavy the demands which he may meet; he has enough and to spare. As his heart overflows with benevolence, I will leave him to settle all matters without my aid, and when everything has been done, I may be prevailed on to take advantage of his goodness; but, in the meantime, I will be as reckless as I may"? The question instantly occurs, How it is either possible or right, consistent with benevolence, to assist such a character? Suppose that your house were on fire, and a well-appointed train of firemen, with their engines, were at hand, to assist in quenching the flames, would you retreat from a scene where perhaps your most important worldly interests were at stake, and where lives dearer to you than your own were in danger, and betake yourself to dissipation or amusement, saying there were persons paid for the work, and whose office and duty it was to attend to it, and that you would devolve all the trouble on them? You could not be so unnatural; you would do everything to rouse the sleeping inmates, to secure your most important papers; and whatever energy, daring, and skill and diligence could accomplish, you would do. Or suppose, again, that you were placed in a garrison which was beleaguered by fierce and formidable foes, that the attacks upon the fortifications were pushed most vigorously on all sides, and it required all your skill and labour night and day to defend yourselves; but in the meantime a numerous and well-appointed army had been sent by your sovereign to your relief, well able to raise the siege and effect your liberation; when you heard the news, would you remit your ardour and watchfulness? When you heard the sound of the trumpets, and the roar of the artillery as they marched to the conflict, and when you knew that the moment of your rescue was at hand, is there a man who would fold his arms, and refuse to mount the ramparts, to sally out and make a diversion on his own side of the camp? who would not dare and do everything to make the defeat of the enemy as complete as possible? If the men refused, the very women would cry shame upon them, take up the arms which the dastards had thrown away, and help to achieve the victory. But, my friends, you have auxiliaries far mightier and stronger than the best disciplined and most enthusiastic troops that ever general brought into the field of battle. You have the army of the Lord of hosts, and at its head the Captain of your salvation; you have all the resources of Omnipotence collected and concentrated for your deliverance. If ever impulse or energy was communicated to the human mind, it must be by such considerations as these; and with all these mercies, boundless and glorious, around you and before, is it not high time to shake off your slumber, to commence your work, and to ask with eagerness, "What shall we do to be saved?" "What shall we do that we may do the works of God?"

(R. Redpath, M. A.)

You might as well expect the steam which gives its mighty energy to the engine to perform all the delicate workmanship of some textile manufacture without the directing brain and controlling hand, as to hope for grace to work apart from the cooperation of the human will; and again, you might as soon expect these mechanical results without the motive power, as that man should save himself without God's grace. The body is supplied with an organization admirably adapted to our wants, but it is the mind which directs every action, and it is the principle of life which renders action possible. Deprive it of intelligence, and what one action would be rightly performed? And yet we feel that there is a mutual concurrence of mind and body when we do perform anything.

(G. Huntington, M. A.)

Before any daisy or violet, before any blossom is seen in the field, the sun lies with its bosom to the ground, crying to the flower, and saying, "Why tarriest thou so long?" and day after day the sun comes, and pours its maternal warmth upon the earth, and coaxes the plant to grow and bloom. And when days and weeks have passed the root obeys the call and sends out its germ, from which comes the flower. Had it not been for the sun's warmth and light, the flower could never have come to itself. So the Eternal Spirit of God rests on the human soul, warming it, quickening it, calling it, and saying, "O, my sent where art thou?" And at last it is this Divine sympathy and brooding influence that brings men to God, and leads them to say, "Am I not sinful?" and to yearn for something higher and purer and holier. It was God's work. He long ago was "working in you, to will and to do of His own good pleasure."

(H. W. Beecher.)

The grandest operations both in nature and in grace are the most silent and imperceptible. The shallow brook babbles in its passage, and is heard by every one; but the coming on of the seasons is silent and unseen. The storm rages and alarms; but its fury is soon exhausted, and its effects are partial and soon remedied; but the dew, though gentle and unheard, is immense in quantity, and the very life of large portions of the earth. And these are pictures of the operations of grace, in the Church and in the soul.

(R. Cecil.)

See Israel at the Red Sea. By the wilderness, and the mountains, and the sea, the people are shut in; and behind them is Pharaoh in close pursuit, with his great and well-equipped army. If we look simply at man's valour or wisdom, resistance and escape are equally and utterly hopeless. The cry of Israel to Moses is, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" But Moses said to them, "Fear ye not: stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show you today. The Lord shaft fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." At this point, you observe, they are called to be simple spectators of "the salvation of the Lord" looking on with adoring wonder at the mighty work which only the Divine hand could accomplish — the opening of a pathway for them through the midst of the great waters. But afterwards, for the "Stand still and see," comes a command to display energetic activity. "The Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea." So with you and me, dear brethren. The expiation of guilt, the "working out of our salvation" meritoriously, could be achieved only by the God-man; and our part is to "stand still," and "behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." But now, when, by the Lord's propitiatory sufferings and death, a way, broad and clear, has been opened for us through the midst of the waters of avenging judgment, His command, loud and explicit, to every one of us is that, by persistent, growing faith and holiness, we "go forward."

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

Though salvation remains wholly of grace, it may be described as worked out by ourselves. God does not reduce man into a machine; He rather puts a machine at man's disposal, and having imparted the strength to turn the wheel, requires of man that he labour, in order to the evolving the web from the loom.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Just as it is the distinction of a crystal, that it is transparent, able to let the light into and through its close flinty body, and be irradiated by it in the whole mass of its substance, without being at all more or less a crystal, so it is the grand distinction of humanity, that it is made permeable by the Divine nature, prepared in that manner to receive and entemple the Infinite Spirit, to be energized by Him, and filled with His glory in every faculty, feeling, and power.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

Christ has made salvation possible for us, but He has not made it easy; He has brought it near to each of us, but we have still to be working it out. He has cast, as it were, the rope to shipwrecked souls, vainly buffeting with the breakers, and blinded with the spray. We could never have made our way without this help, bruised and battered, benumbed as we were. We could never have saved ourselves without His help, but now all may be well, through Him, only there still needs effort on our part as well as on His, if only to hold fast by the cord of life and watch against the perils that still lie in our way. That effort is needed as really as is His help. The door of life is still open, but it is still a strait gate, and we must strive to enter in. Eternal life may be laid hold of, but we must fight the good fight in order to lay hold on it.

(W. C. Smith, D. D.)

Much more in my absence prove to yourselves, prove to all who care to look at you, that you do not depend on me, that you do not hang upon man or angel; but that you hang on God, who brought the Gospel to you, although He brought it on my lips. It was He who brought it, and He has not gone; He worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. "Oh, ye Philippians," he says, "you are at no loss, you are at no disadvantage; true I am not with you, though I fain would be; but God is with you, and He is now working in you." I sometimes think that this verse receives its fullest emphasis by taking it from Paul's mouth and putting it into Christ's. We hear it as coming not from Paul the servant, but from Christ the great Master within the veil as He looks down on us. Oh, how it fits us! We are so apt to say — if He were here, then how our sanctification and our Christian work would get on. If He were here with us! And Christ says to us, to us His Philippians here in London, speaking down from the eternal glory, "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 I am working in you both to will and to do of My good pleasure." Christians, we are walking not by sight, but by a spiritual vision of Him who has gone before us, and is drawing us surely and certainly into His own presence. "Not as in My presence only, but now much more in My absence, let there be intensity, let there be individualism; let every man feel that this is his own affair; and while you receive all ministries and all gifts of that kind helpfully and thankfully, rise superior to them all; reach out and forth to Me Myself, your Saviour, your Sanctifier, your All in all." "Your own salvation;" what does that mean? That is a rare word in the Bible; the Bible is not fond of calling anything our own. I must realize that I have in my heart the salvation I am to work out. Let me enhance this thought in your mind, the thought that salvation is made over to us as our own, in a Book which from beginning to end strips us of all real ownership. "This is mine," says a man here, or a man not here, "this is my pile, I scraped it together; I rose early, I sat up late," and as he says it he jerks his money bags or turns over his bank book to the balance. And as we have seen in Glasgow some years ago, in the case of the City of Glasgow Bank, the bank breaks and he is a beggar — he is a beggar! This that he was calling his, even while he clutched it, it left him; for riches take unto themselves wings, and prove to us that that possessive word was foolish; it is disproved by bitter fact. If your wealth was really yours, why did you let it go? "My property," says a man. "See that? See that fine row of buildings? that is mine. These title deeds mine, securely mine," and the next morning he is poking among the black ashes with his stick; his property has gone up in a chariot of fire, and come down in a shower of soot! Oh, how sarcastically the chapter of accidents disputes with us this expression: "My own." How did that happen, if it was really yours? "My child," says a mother, "my own, my firstborn, the latest thing in babies, did you ever see his like? My own," and she draws him to her bosom. I can imagine some mother saying, "Now, preacher, you can surely allow the expression here — My own baby;" No, I dare not; I must be true to God's Word, and true to the facts of life. There is a Power that dares to come in between the babe and the bosom; and that is close work, is it not? "Your own salvation." That thing, if I may so say, for which you had neither right nor claim nor title, handed over to you, and as it is handed over, this word along with it — "Now that is yours." "The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord;" "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life;" "He that believeth hath" — open your arms, man! — "everlasting life." Now, thou black, grim, doubting devil that dost forever whisper thy words in my ear, I will fight thee here. "My own salvation" — mine because it is a gift. Salvation is ours because it is a gift, and from One who will never with. draw it. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Now let us get on to the command, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." That is what I wanted to get at. You have to be active. God's sovereignty and power evoke human responsibility and activity. You have it, therefore work it out. To use a common illustration: there is a load of bricks here, a load of timber and some slates. That is not a house. No; but there is the making of one, and you can make the house out of it. Now the Lord lays all down at our door; He puts it into our hearts; He comes with the plan and the specification and the material, and says, "Now work them out." The Greek has at its root the idea of energy. Oh! what a pulsing word — energize your own salvation. Now there are just a number of people needing the word "energize." The doctrines are lying on your souls like great unwrought lumps of dough that you have not worked out — I speak to housewives — and no man can feed on dough; it will kill him! Many of you are dyspeptics, feeding on Gospel doctrine that you have not kneaded and fired — and I don't know what — but you understand what I mean! "Work out your own salvation." Get up now, put your feet below you, fling off your coat, turn up your sleeves, and go at this business like the work of a lifetime, and never stop it, this work of saving yourself, if I may be as contradictory as the Bible is. When the Lord comes to me in all the light of His saving grace, He shows me what to do. He brings all with Him that is needed; but I am not to be lazy; I am not to lie back and do nothing. Now you know what to do. You have a bad temper — work out your salvation. You are getting to be a fair pest in the house because of this temper. You are not to go and cuddle up this temper and say, "I am a child of God, though I have a little infirmity." Be saved from your infirmity, oh sweet child of God! Another says, "I do believe that I am saved, but I am inconsistent." Well, save yourself from this inconsistency — work out your own salvation. What would you think of the man who went about with his hands in his pockets whistling and joking, because he had a load of bricks and stones and timber lying all around there; and wanting shelter on a wintry day, he creeps under the bricks and says, "This is my house: here will I dwell." Are not some of us doing so? Why, if you could see your spiritual house as the Lord sees it, you would get in an awful fright. Oh man, work out your own salvation! Now, blessed be God, His great gift will work out. There is a grand "furthiness" — if you don't know that word, so much the worse for you — in the grace which comes from Jesus Christ, which will expand and extend and yield as long as you make demands upon it. There are many gifts we get that have none of this furthiness in them. You have them in your house. The first day that gift came to you — some ornament, it is on the mantelpiece — when it came first it told on you, it told of your friend's kindness, and for a little time there was much in it. But as time went on it did not expand, its gold became dim, and there came some day, some dull, dark day, that you were doleful and needed help, and you stood and looked at that gift, and it utterly failed to do you good. It came to an end. The next question is, How? Here is the modus operandi — "With fear and trembling." "With fear and trembling" — what does it mean? I does not mean that we are to go through life with our knees forever smiting each other because "in such an hour as we think not" we will drop into the pit again. Many take that meaning out of it, and that paralyzes work. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." The cup of salvation is so full, it is so brimming, it is so sweet, that it would be "too sweet to be wholesome;" it would go to the head "and make us reel and stagger, and become unwatchful and hilarious, and defeat its own purpose. But, wherever Christ gives the cup of salvation, He puts in an infusion of these tonic bitters, "fear and trembling," so that Grace may not cloy and clog. These are the bitter herbs with which we eat our Passover. The more freely you take of Christ, the more careful you become in life and conduct. It is like the ballast to the ship. You have seen those yachts of ours, designed by Watson and built by Fyfe — things of beauty, and almost instinct with life. There it is; the sea is sparkling in the sun; there is a splendid, crisp breeze blowing. Watch that squall of wind as it strikes the yacht with its great mass and breadth of canvas that would do for the mainsail of a man-of-war. See what happens! You would expect the very breadth of the sheet is going to spoil all. That squall will strike the sail and the vessel will careen and go the bottom. Not at all: that squall strikes her, and most gracefully she yields to it and heels over on to her very beam end; but look at the cut-water. See how she is tearing through! For deep down there is the keel, and a great weight upon it; in these modern days tons of lead are run along the keel; or, as in America, there is a great centre board sent away down into the water, which gives tremendous leverage; and no matter how the yacht heels over, it holds her steady and prevents disaster. So with religion: spread your sails to the gales of Gospel grace; take Christ in all the fulness of the Father's gift as He is, and the Gospel doctrines will not sink you; you will not grow giddy and light headed, but this fear and trembling will give you rest, weight, grip, ballast, solidity, and you will urge your course forward across these seas of time and sin with splendid speed. It. is just like what you have when a man has been saved who was drowning, and all his kicking and struggling were only hastening it. And when this kicking and struggling were over, some one has reached from above and drawn him out, and there he stands on the solid land, saved. Ah! but it was a narrow shave. Rejoicing, but it is not a hilarious rejoicing, is it? He is not cracking his thumbs and jigging, but he is rejoicing "with trembling." He is altogether saved, and he was so nearly altogether lost. "With fear and trembling." Take another illustration. An eminent French surgeon used to say to his students when they were engaged in difficult and delicate operations, in which coolness and firmness were needed, "Gentlemen, don't be in a hurry, for there's no time to lose." Time to make that incision once and well in the vital place, not time to dash at it with over confidence. Before you have recovered yourself a precious life will have been spilled. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" — no swagger, no bounce, no bravado, no cocksureness, yet every confidence that He who hath begun this good work will carry it on to the perfect day. All confidence in Thee, my God, and none in myself; that is the way in which I do the best work towards God, or my brother man. Only one life, no second chance for evermore; and into this one life, into this one day, we are to crowd, to pack the utmost of holy living in every direction that we possibly can, "with fear and trembling." "For it is God that worketh in you;" but I just wish to recite it before I let you go. You work out, as one has said; for God works in. There is the mainspring, there is the unfailing Source, of all the believer's energy for sanctification, and for personal effort in the Church of Christ to promote His cause. It is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Then let me say at once, we can be holy, we shall be holy, for it is God who worketh in us. Poor drunkard, thou canst give up drink; lustful man, thou canst be clean; for it is God, it is God that worketh in you. Do not be a football of the world, of the flesh, and the devil, for it is God that worketh in you. "Ah! it is true, it is all true; but what can I do?" Now we come back to the Power: "It is God;" and what can He not do if you will only let Him? God is the Source. See how He puts it. It is God that. worketh in you. How? Listen: "both to will and to do." The first thing is to get the will right, and then the deed, don't you see, will follow. Is it not your complaint and mine, that the will is wrong, the will is twisted, the will has been led captive, by the devil? Well, there is an engine — that splendid creation of the engineering faculty of the nineteenth century! But did you ever see an engine which was allowed to drive itself? There is a splendid horse, but did you ever see a blood horse that was allowed to drive itself? Your engine needs a driver, and your horse needs a rider; and your converted man has a God in him, managing him in every direction. There is the engineer; he steps on the foot plate: with one hand he holds the reversing rod, that sends the engine backwards or forwards; with the other hand, he holds the throttle valve, the opening of which lets the steam into the cylinders. So with God: He holds the will and the doing. Thou art managed, splendidly managed. God will drive thee. God will see to thy supplies, and wilt keep up the Divine pressure. Thou shalt be filled unto all the fulness of God.

(J. McNeill.)

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