Summary: EOLS: Salvation is by Grace, but God gives us the opportunity to work out our personal maturation.
Working it Out
(12) 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,
(13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(27) Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
(1) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
(2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
(3) eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(4) There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call--
(5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
(6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
EOLS: Salvation is by Grace, but God gives us the opportunity to work out our personal maturation.
“Working out our salvation” means living out the faith we have in Christ. It is virtually the same thing as “conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel”. Working out our salvation is a life-long process, as can be seen by the present tense of the imperative. It is something we “keep on doing.” (Bible.org)
He exhorts as if he were an Arminian in addressing men. He prays as if he were a Calvinist in addressing God and feels no inconsistency in the two attitudes. Paul makes no attempt to reconcile divine sovereignty and human free agency, but boldly proclaims both. (A.W. Robertson)
Salvation is a glorious word!
We can go deep into what it means. One of the Greek words, the one used here is “soteria.” As a matter of fact the theological study of all things related to salvation is “soteriology.” It’s derived from the same root as “sozo” which is usually translated “saved.”
The Greek word is much richer and descriptive than its English translation.
If you talk to people who are not familiar with “church talk” or “Christianese” you’ll get some funny looks and reactions when you talk about being saved. I remember telling you the story of when I was determined to talk to my soccer buddies at twelve years old. I asked Robby and Vincent “Hey, have y’all been saved?” They began to ask “saved from what, like drowning?” I got completely frustrated. I realized that the word as we know it is very limited, and it difficult shows the limitation of our English translation. But those of us who have been saved understand the full import of it.
Sozo/Soteria goes way farther than simply our being saved from punishment or something bad. It fully denotes an abundant life (John 10:10) and it includes a healing and wholeness in the soul, deliverance not just from transgression and punishment but from bondages. It is a full, meaningful life that we are saved TO. We are saved from God’s wrath, and to an abundant life, and toward Heaven.