working out salvation

I think I thought that salvation by grace alone meant that there would be no painful effort on my part.  If sanctification, like salvation, is an act of God, then it’s a done deal and all I have to do is wait for it to happen.  Any labor I do would be blasphemy, stealing glory from God, works righteousness, legalism.  And I’d be bound to fail anyway.  All good deeds should flow easily out of pure love motives.  I will be changed by and by, with or without my conscious knowledge.

But in truth, it takes an act of my own will to be nice to my husband when he is being unfair; it takes practice to be gentle to demanding, selfish children; I need to be reminded ever so often of the forgiveness I’ve received so that I can forgive others.

It is grace that makes me want to be good, but I still must work.  It is grace that makes me willing and able to work, but I still must work.    Is this the Catholic concept of cooperating with the Holy Spirit?

There is a hierarchy of wants and what I want right now is not always what I want most.  What I want most is to be loving and kind and holy, to please God and to be a blessing to the creation.  What I want right now is to be left alone.

 

Philippians 2:12; Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9

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20 thoughts on “working out salvation

  1. savedbygrace says:

    Grace and peace

    @It is grace that makes me want to be good, but I still must work. It is grace that makes me willing and able to work, but I still must work. Is this the Catholic concept of cooperating with the Holy Spirit?”
    ————————————————————————
    when you were first in love with your boyfriend, do you force yourself to be on time for date? or does it happen effortlessly?

    The grace of God is love. unless one experience the Love of God, one cannot love truly.

    “we love because He first loved us” – 1 john 4:19

    ———————————————————————-
    WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling;
    FOR IT IS GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU both TO WILL and TO DO for His good pleasure.
    – Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV)

    Love works. Faith works. Hope works.

    It is God’s work, that we work. God had ‘work for’ our salvation so that we ‘work out’ the salvation given us.

    it simply means, when you are loving, you simply love.
    if you try to love, when you actually hate the person, you become hypocrite

    when you have faith, work simply is the fruit of faith. work manifest
    if you try to work apart from faith, then its dead. self effort work. fruitless

    when you have hope, you simply endure. hope is Christ’
    hope without Christ is hopeless.

    Work For = something you do not have
    Work out = something you have

    grace and peace

    • sara says:

      I think you’re repeating the idea that good works flow naturally out of love. I agree. and I don’t.

      Boyfriend? I don’t know how to answer that. My husband and I have been married fourteen years and it is a decision we make daily to continue to love and serve each other. If love were only a feeling, we’d have abandoned each other the moment life got difficult.

      Perhaps you are still in the first flush of love yourself and cannot imagine that your emotions will ever contradict what you know is good?

      If you’re implying that walking in Christian love is effortless or easy, I’d like to remind you that Jesus said we are to count the cost and that the kernel of wheat needs to fall to the ground and die in order to produce anything. The great cloud of witnesses which were stoned and sawn asunder and tempted and slain with the sword would probably not call the path they chose effortless. Luke 14; John 12; Hebrews 11 & 12.

      • savedbygrace says:

        good day.

        @I think you’re repeating the idea that good works
        flow naturally out of love. I agree. and I don’t.
        ——————————————————————
        I agree with what you said.
        except what do you mean when you said “I agree. and I don’t.”

        @Boyfriend? I don’t know how to answer that. My husband and I have been married fourteen years and it is a decision we make daily to continue to love and serve each other. If love were only a feeling, we’d have abandoned each other the moment life got difficult.
        ——————————————————————
        very true. love is not a feeling.

        For believers, It is God’s love (agapeo) that we love
        “We love because He first loved us” – 1 john 4:19

        @Perhaps you are still in the first flush of love yourself and cannot imagine that your emotions will ever contradict what you know is good?
        ——————————————————————
        sorry to mislead you. I was’nt talking about emotions
        but your point is right.
        Human emotion is flesh.

        that is why we walk in the Spirit, not flesh

        @If you’re implying that walking in Christian love is effortless or easy,
        I’d like to remind you that Jesus said we are to count the cost and that
        the kernel of wheat needs to fall to the ground and die in order to produce anything. Luke 14; John 12; Hebrews 11 & 12.
        ——————————————————————

        Luke 14:26
        is about the cost of following Jesus. No one can follow Jesus.
        Jesus died, shed His blood to make us not disciples, but to
        qualify us to be God’s children, when we believe.

        John 12:47 – very inspiring
        “And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them,
        I will not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world”

        Hebrews 11
        – talks about the heroes of faith. If you notice, the persons in the old testament have imperfect backgrounds.

        Hebrews 12:22
        “But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God”

        on the First Pentecost when the 10 commandments was given,
        It was given on mount Sinai. 3,000 died

        On the same Pentecost after Jesus resurrected Grace was manifested
        3,000 Got saved

        We have to move to Mount Zion. The new covenant

        grace and peace

  2. sara says:

    Perhaps I have not been clear; I think you are under the impression that I believe that I must obey the law to be saved, and that is not what I believe.

    The law has been a most excellent tutor to show me my sin. I am exploring something more nuanced than grace vs. works – because that has already been settled in my mind and it is by grace that I am saved and not by works. Rather, I am learning what it means to be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.

    I didn’t say or imply some of the things you seem to be inferring, so I must have been too vague. You have read my little blip of a post and decided that I am under bondage to the old covenant. I could read what you have written and paint you with the broad brush of antinomianism, but I won’t attribute to you something you did not say.

    And as you have misunderstood me, I also find your writing confusing, both in format and in the scriptures you’ve chosen to highlight. Personally, I find paragraphs and complete sentences to be easier to follow. Have you ever read here before? Maybe our lack of relationship to each other has made it difficult for us to understand each other.

    • savedbygrace says:

      @Maybe our lack of relationship to each other has made it difficult for us to understand each other
      ——————————————————————————
      I felt we are not connecting. Friend, I wish I can come to you and build that relationship.

      grace and peace

      • sara says:

        Actually, I want to apologize – maybe I’m not understanding you for other reasons. Are you bilingual? Is English your first language?

      • savedbygrace says:

        no worries.

        my native language is not English. my message sometimes gets easily lost in translation.

        although the internet is a best tool to communicate, it however lost the facial expression, the unspoken intent written on ones face.

        grace and peace.

  3. unashamed says:

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    (Ephesians 2:8-10)

    If I’m understanding you Sara, the question is not whether we are saved by grace through faith vs. works, but rather what is the relationship between faith (which grasps saving grace) and works (which demonstrates the grace that we abide in). Is that accurate?

  4. unashamed says:

    From the blog of Pr. Will Weedon:

    When our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to repent, he meant that the entire life of the Christian should be repentance.

    Which is to say, the entire life of the Christian, powered by the forgiveness of God, is an ongoing war against the sin that remains in our flesh. There is no peace treaty with that sin because of forgiveness. The exact opposite.

    You have a house infested with poisonous snakes and you make a treaty of peace with them? Heck no! You go after them with a vengeance each time one shows its ugly head. You do so in the joyful confidence that the final victory WILL be yours, not theirs!

    It is absolutely true that this battle continues to our grave. The evil desires continue to pop up from our corrupted flesh and will. But the grace of the Holy Spirit is given us for this battle to wage on.

    Do we do it perfectly? Of course not! We literally LIVE from the forgiveness of our sins. But because we do, we’re snake hunters. We watch for the wretches to show up and then we attack with a vengeance. We know they mean us death, and so we bring them to death. We most certainly do NOT feed them, coddle them, or excuse them with saying: ”But I’m forgiven, so they can stay.”

    ___________________________________________________________

    Luther had this to say:
    “In Christians, repentance continues until death. For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh. Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his own members (Romans 7:14-25) not by his own powers but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins [Romans 8:1-17]. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy. . . . So it is necessary to know and to teach this: When holy people—still having and p 277 feeling original sin and daily repenting and striving against it—happen to fall into manifest sins (as David did into adultery, murder, and blasphemy [2 Samuel 11]), then faith and the Holy Spirit have left them. The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants [Psalm 51:11; Romans 6:14]. If sin does what it wants, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present. For St. John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning … and he cannot keep on sinning” [1 John 3:9]. And yet it is also true when St. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” [1:8].

    • sara says:

      I love these quotes – they are helpful. Thank you.

      I am wondering about how that active warring against sin fits in with grace. I mean, it’s not a passive thing, is it? I mean it seems that God wills that I will.

  5. unashamed says:

    I’m not sure that God wills that we exercise our will. I’m pretty sure that when we exercise our will that that’s precisely when we sin. Our will is the problem, no? I think the most we can say is that God exercises His will through us. Sometimes our desire to be conduits of His will align with what He wills; other times our own will gets in the way. I know that sounds passive. But all Holy desires come from God, don’t they? That’s where the “warring” idea comes from the Spirit and the flesh are duking it out within us. That’s from Romans…….7 is it? I’m sorry, I wish I had some Scripture off the top of my head to back up what I just wrote but I don’t right now. So it’ll have to be my opinion for now *grin*

    • sara says:

      Yes, Romans 7. Well, 7-9 really. But I think we disagree on what they mean.

      I wrote a whole long thingy but erased it because, even though it’s an interesting conversation, I wasn’t really trying to talk about election or free will.

      This is what I’m getting at: I am finding myself convicted of sin. So, at this time, God is extending His grace to me by causing me to struggle against my sin. In a nutshell.

      ETA: and oh yeah, you didn’t say this, but I have to add that it is NOT effortless. If it’s supposed to be effortless, then I must not be a true believer.

    • sara says:

      Anita,
      It’s entirely possible that we are really that far apart in our beliefs, but it’s also possible that we’re working from different ideas of “will.” Whatever the case, I love you and you are my sister. But let me get this out.

      By “will” I do not mean “flesh.” I don’t mean selfish desires or an attempt to wrest control away from God. When I say “I will” I mean my ability to consciously choose the good in spite of my desires to the contrary. For example, I might desire to lie in bed until 8 am, but I will get up at 5. I might desire to sit on the computer all day, but I will to get up and care for my family. I might want to sit on the couch, but I will go to church. I actually believe my will is a gift from God. In that sense, my will IS a grace.

      Maybe I’m wrong, and God’s just exercising mind control on me, but that kind of thinking is extremely detrimental to my mental health (and my spiritual life). I guess not everyone is susceptible to becoming fatalistic as I am, but when I have started to lean toward thinking that I am unable to actually choose anything because of God’s sovereignty I have come very close to just giving up doing anything at all. Why actively choose anything if choice is just an illusion? If I get up at 5 God says, “I meant for you to do that.” If I lie in bed he says, “That was my plan all along.” Maybe, but under that umbrella of His WILL is my little will that I believe He asks me to use.

      Maybe I just need this limited definition because of my tiny finite mind which can’t comprehend the bigness and goodness of God’s total control. I think that’s OK. One day I will know fully even as I am fully known.

      OK, I think I’m done. I had to get this out because I recently started dedicating myself to some spiritual practices which are difficult for me, but which I believe are good, and when this question of willing and doing came up again, it made me almost give it up as a futile.

      much love

  6. unashamed says:

    I love you too sister 🙂

    I sure hope that I haven’t sounded argumentative in my replies – not my intention at all!

    I’m gonna be honest with you – I don’t fully understand how my will works with God’s will, so a lot of what I’ve posted is just my opinion/speculation/conjecture. I know that God desires that I do good works. I know that I must struggle against my carnal nature to do good. And I know that God wants me to do so. I don’t know where God’s will ends and mine begins…or vice versa. I just know that it is good for me to continue to struggle and live in forgiveness when I fail.

    It is a struggle. It’s not easy and it certainly doesn’t happen automatically. And it most certainly is NOT futile. We know from Scripture that there is great value in persevering.

    I’m probably going to link to this discussion on my blog because it fits nicely with a conversation that I had yesterday with my pastor. That ok with you?

    • sara says:

      See? We’re not that far apart. You didn’t come off as argumentative, but I know that this has been an area that you have been helping me to hash out for a few years now, so I wanted to let you know where I’ve landed on it. Yes, link away.

  7. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings says:

    Just seeing this for the first time…y’know, it’s just amazing that you are quiet for a while and then just come out with a post that so powerful, sweet lady. I wish we lived closer to each other. I would love to spend (several) afternoons just picking your brain!

    You too, Anita! 🙂

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