Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
The 12th verse of the second chapter of Philippians is one of those used to support the need for works in order to maintain or attain one’s salvation. The very next verse helps to clear this up. We are not doing the work but God is working to change us. To think that there is something God needs us to do that He cannot takes away from the finished work of the cross. Yes a believer will have good works, but these works are an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a result of our salvation. These works do not ensure continued salvation. That has already been assured by God.
Once we believe we receive eternal life. Something eternal does not have an expiration date. It has been promised each believer by God. God does not break His promises. Salvation is only by and through God’s grace; we can do nothing to earn it. It is a gift freely given to those who believe.
When we take verses like Philippians 2:12 out of its context we do a disservice to God’s Word. We can prove almost anything by taking verses out of context. When we try to understand a verse in the Bible we need to look at the verses around it. Then we need to look at the book the verse is in and finally we need to interpret the verse as it relates to the Bible as a whole. When this is done we see a consistency that is remarkable. Something that could only come from God.
I am a fan of science fiction. One of my favorite authors is Isaac Asimov who wrote the classic Foundation trilogy back in the early 50’s. For years fans wanted more but Asimov wrote that keeping the story lines straight was becoming exceedingly harder. It seems that every time the story took a direction he was limiting the direction in the future. Consequently contradictions would crop up. It took Asimov almost 30 years to expand the series. With men it is impossible to weave a complex story without contradictions. Fortunately for God this is easy.
So the next time a person cherry picks a verse to prove a point, direct them back to God’s word and ask them to review the verse in light of the totality of God’s word.
Have a blessed day,