International Cowboy Church Alliance Network - ICCAN

Spreading the love of Jesus...the Cowboy Way!

       “Work helps me put my troubles aside.”

                    --D.C. Adkisson  (Outlaws of Boulder Canyon)

       "We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
                    --1 Thessalonians 1:3 (HCSB)
               "Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)."
                          --Philippians 2:12 (Amplified)

For some reason this verse seems to baffle many people.  It is that one little phrase, "work out."  It is that phrase that frustrates so many Christians.  I purposely used the Amplified Version to give a clearer picture of the verse.  The Greek word for work is, "katergazomai" which means to "achieve, effect by toil, work out" (Vine).   The NKJV Study Bible gives some background as to the meaning.  It was used to describe the digging of silver out of silver mines.  "Thus salvation can be compared to a huge gift that needs to be unwrapped for one's thorough enjoyment."  We are to cultivate our salvation and bring it to full effect.  In other words, pursue spiritual maturity.
       Salvation is a gift--never forget that.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8, NKJV)  It has already been paid for, the work has already been accomplished.  Yet, now, once we are saved we begin to "work out" our salvation.  We do not "work for" but we "work out."  Get that for its vitally important!
       Let me give a few examples.  A person might give you a jigsaw puzzle--that is the gift.  Now, it is up to you to put it together; to work it out.  The gift is ours, now we are to put it together.  Another way to look at it might be the illustration that was used by Charles Atlas.  Some of you might remember the ads for his workout regimine.  There is a young, puny-looking lad, frail, spindly and a muscle-man comes by where he is sitting and kicks sand in his face.  The boy has a body, but it is not developed.  He must "work out" to make it into an intimidating physical specimen.  He goes to the gym, looks in the mirror at his weak body, then begins to lift weights, run, and does calisthenics.  His body begins to change and with it his attitude.  He is "working out."
       One more example:  hold that baby in your arms.  My what a sweet little thing and you stand it on its feet, and splat, it goes right on its face.  You determine that you will never let it out of your arms.  But then what about your life?  So eventually, over time, you watch and guard the baby as it grows from babyhood to becoming a toddler with all of the bruises that go with it.  From those first steps, he is working out his muscles, gaining confidence, and moving on toward the next stage of life.
       In other words, to "work out" means to develop who you are in Christ.  Oh, you may fall along the way, get some scraps on your arms and scratches on your knees, but you are progressing.  The Holy Spirit is within you and whether you realize it or not there is a magnificent fruit growing in you.  Alistair Begg states, "the Christian life is a joyful--and at times painful--voyage of discovery."  We are now to walk, to live out, to act out Paul's instruction regarding our salvation.
       I am going to borrow some more from Begg in describing how to "work out."  "The call to work out our salvation is a call to consistency.  Just as we called on the name of the Lord to save us at the start of our Christian lives, so we must continue to call on His name.  This takes very ordinary, practical forms in our lives.  We continue to come before God in prayer.  We continue to gather with fellow believers for worship.  We continue to hear from Him in Scriptures.  We continue to strive to walk in His grace, putting sin to death and growing in spiritual fruit.  We work at the Christian life, for we remember that no one matures as a believer by accident."
       We do not need to work for our salvation nor do we need to work on our salvation.  That part is finished and the work has been secured.  Now, we are to "work out" our salvation so that we are in shape--more and more like Christ.  That's why 1 John is such an important book.  If we fail in our working out we can go to Christ who will forgive and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).  This verse is for the Christian who is working out his salvation.  We don't jump from the light once we are walking in it over into darkness, then back into the light and so on.  We walk in the light, working out our salvation.
     D.C. Adkisson

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