WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION

(Trumpet Ministries,Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Typical Christian preaching in our day presents the Christian salvation as a ticket to Heaven. A few "key verses," such as Romans 0:9,10, are lifted from their contexts and used to "get people saved." Numerous people have "come to Christ" in just this manner, including the present author.

The "ticket to Heaven" approach to the Divine redemption has been of benefit until the present hour. However, the nearness of the Day of the Lord is bringing with it a renewed understanding of the salvation that is in Christ, a much broader perspective and one that embraces all that is presented in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)

The above verse fits our current understanding of salvation.

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. (Philippians 2:12)

The above verse does not fit our current understanding of salvation.

When our doctrine is supported by some verses but not by others, our doctrine is not sound.

Typical Christian preaching in our day presents the Christian salvation as a ticket to Heaven. A few "key verses," such as Romans 10:9,10 are lifted from their contexts and used to "get people saved." Numerous people have "come to Christ" in just this manner, including the present author.

The "ticket to Heaven" approach to the Divine redemption has been of benefit until the present hour. However, the nearness of the Day of the Lord is bringing with it a renewed understanding of the salvation that is in Christ, a much broader perspective and one that embraces all that is presented in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The current teaching is that if we confess the Lord Jesus with our mouth and believe in our heart that God has raised the Lord Jesus from the dead we will be saved.

The term "saved" ordinarily means we shall go to Heaven when we die to live forever in a mansion. What we shall do after that, if anything, is not always clear.

If the reader is a sincere, diligent Christian, he should be concerned that his basic belief is not supported by the Scriptures. What passage of the Scriptures teaches that being saved means we shall go to live forever in Paradise when we die?

If our reader cannot find such a passage, then perhaps he or she will be encouraged to examine what else we have to say on the subject of working out our salvation.

What do the Scriptures teach concerning salvation? The Scriptures present salvation as preservation in the Day of God's Wrath.

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)

In the Scriptures, salvation is presented as deliverance in the Day when God releases His anger, the anger that has been building since the time Satan and his followers chose to rebel against God's will.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)

And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:25)

Paul "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." "Judgment to come"! Governor Felix trembled at the thought. How different from today's preaching of the Gospel!

When Paul brought the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to Felix, Paul did not advise the Governor to "accept Christ" so when he died he would go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion.

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

The teaching of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, presents salvation in terms of the "great and dreadful day of the Lord."

When the Day of the Lord comes, which will happen at the end of the present age, the living and the dead will be judged. It does not matter where the living are or where the dead are at that time, they shall be judged.

If we would not be driven from the Presence of God and the glory of His Kingdom in the Day of the Lord, we must be saved. We are saved in terms of the Day of Wrath, not primarily in terms of where we go after we die.

There is a Hell. There is a Lake of Fire. There is a place referred to as "outer darkness." These may take effect after we die. But the Scriptures appear to emphasize the salvation that will take place in the Day of the Lord.

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)

Today we would say that the Corinthian sinner must suffer so he might go to Heaven when he dies. But the Apostle Paul was seeking to save the man's spirit in the Day of the Lord.

There are three major errors in the Christian preaching of our day.

We are saved by believing and confessing the theological facts concerning the Lord Jesus, His atoning death and bodily resurrection, whether or not we obey the numerous commandments found in the New Testament.

To be saved is to go to Paradise after we die and live there forever. Heaven is our "eternal home."

At any moment there will be a "rapture" in which all who have made a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus will be caught up (whether bodily or not we cannot tell) to meet the Lord in the air and return with Him to Heaven, to their mansion in Paradise.

These three doctrines are contrary to the Scriptures.

The purpose behind the three doctrines is to do away with the fear of God in the churches, to produce believers who are careless and overconfident concerning their eternal destiny. These doctrines have been successful in keeping the believers immature in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.

It can be seen that the three are linked together. We are assured of going to Heaven after we die because we have made a proper confession concerning Christ. Our goal is to live forever in Paradise, and the "rapture" accomplishes this before we have suffered from Antichrist and the great tribulation.

In actuality, true faith in the Lord Jesus cannot exist apart from the keeping of the commandments found in the New Testament, the commandments given by the Lord through His Apostles. Righteous works are the very life of faith.

Current Christian teaching is more closely related to Gnosticism than it is to Christianity. Gnosticism presents a set of special secrets, the knowledge of which results in salvation. Modern Christian doctrine advocates a set of beliefs to which if one subscribes he or she is saved. There is no code of required conduct.

The purpose of the new covenant is to make an eternal end of the practice of sin. The bulk of the New Testament writings have to do with commandments which we are to keep, as the Spirit of God assists us, until Christ is formed in us and we behave righteously by nature.

The truth is:

To be saved is to be delivered from wrath in the Day of the Lord.

The first resurrection, the historical event that will take place when the Lord returns, includes a gathering together of the saints of all ages and their being caught up to meet the Lord in the air. They then will return with Him to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. The first resurrection from the dead will not take place until the end of the present age, until the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29)

The gathering together of God's elect and their ascension to meet the Lord in the air will occur "immediately after the tribulation of those days," that is, immediately after the great tribulation, at the end of the present age.

The fundamental teaching of the Day of Wrath has been destroyed by the three unscriptural doctrines we have mentioned. If salvation is preached against the backdrop of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord, and if it is our healthy fear of the Day of Wrath that motivates us to live a godly life, then a doctrine that removes the scriptural vision of the Day of the Lord, the Day of Wrath, will produce immature, immoral believers. This is exactly what has taken place.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)

"Perfecting holiness in the fear of God." "The fear of God"!

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [conduct] and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto [hastening] the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (II Peter 3:11,12)

It is taught that we are saved by a correct theological position whether or not we live a godly life. This attitude removes all fear of the Day of the Lord and invites sinful behavior. While we may believe we ought to "try to do better," in the back of our mind is the assurance that "grace" and "mercy" will cover our shortcomings. In this manner we have made the Word of God of no effect.

There is not nearly enough iron in today's preaching to produce saints who will be able to live victoriously in the age of moral horrors we are entering.

It is taught that our goal is to obtain eternal residence and eternal life in the heavenly Paradise. This belief removes our fear of the Day of Wrath. When the Day of Wrath arrives we picture ourselves resting comfortably in our mansion in Heaven instead of being called to account like the other people who also are waiting in the spirit realm for the Day of Wrath.

When the last trumpet sounds we either shall be gathered together with all saints to be with the Lord or we shall be summoned to stand before the Lord and give an accounting of our behavior. The factor that will determine whether we are gathered together with all saints or whether we must give an accounting of our behavior is that of abiding in Christ.

Is Christ our life? Are we living by Christ? It is our union with Christ that will save us in the Day of the Lord, not our having taken the "four steps of salvation."

Where the Carcass, the slain Lamb is, there the eagles will be gathered together. The eagles are those who live by the body and blood of the slain Lamb.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57)

The doctrine of an any-moment pre-tribulation rapture of all believers totally removes any lingering fear we may have of the Day of the Lord. The three assumptions, that Christ's blood covers our ungodly, disobedient behavior, that we shall go straight to a mansion when we die, and that we shall be caught up to Heaven before the days of Antichrist and the great tribulation, have produced a generation of baby Christians who understand practically nothing of the Day of Wrath, the resurrection from the dead, or the Kingdom of God.

Current Christian doctrine is unscriptural, illogical, confusing, and sometimes anti-Semitic.

We are claiming in this paper that it is not true that we are saved by believing and confessing the theological facts concerning the Lord Jesus, His atoning death and bodily resurrection, apart from the bringing forth of a new righteous creation in us. This is the modern form of Gnosticism, an ancient heresy.

What then is true? It is true that we enter the program of salvation by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, repenting of our sinful behavior, and being baptized into His death and His resurrection. After entering the program of salvation we must live each day in such a manner that we are partaking continually of the Life of Christ. We must live by Him as He lives by the Father.

As we abide in Christ the chains of Satan are broken in our personality. We begin to practice righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. The Christian salvation has to do with a change in our behavior, with the way we live. The righteous live by faith.

It is the change from ungodly behavior to godly behavior that itself is salvation. It is the change from the image of Satan and union with Satan to the image of God and union with God that constitutes the Divine redemption. If we present ourselves to the Lord each day so this change may take place, then we will be spared in the Day of God's wrath.

To state we are saved by faith apart from works is to misunderstand God's salvation. We do not purchase salvation by performing works of righteousness, as Paul taught us. On the other hand, it is true that the Divine salvation always produces righteous behavior. Eternal life follows righteous behavior.

It is not true that to be saved is to go to Paradise after we die and live there forever, that Heaven is our "eternal home."

What then is true? To be saved is to be spared the wrath of God so we can enter the incredible joys of the Kingdom of God, of the new creation over which Christ and His saints will reign to the eternity of eternities. The Kingdom of God, the new creation, consists of the physical realm filled with righteous, obedient spirits. The new Jerusalem will be located on the new earth, not in the spirit realm.

It is not true that any moment there will be a "rapture" in which all who have made a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and return with Him to Heaven, to their mansion in Paradise.

What then is true? It is true that the Lord Jesus will be revealed from Heaven at the end of the present age, that is, in the Day of the Lord, the Day of Wrath. At that time the Lord Jesus will gather together His elect from one end of the heavens to the other.

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

There are many millions of people in the spirit realm, and the elect apparently are scattered throughout the heavens.

There will be members of the elect on the earth when the Lord appears. Those saints remaining on the earth will have to be changed from mortality to immortality while standing on their feet. It will require great faith if we are to keep our eyes on the Lord while this change is taking place. This is why the Lord commanded us to "Remember Lot's wife!" If we look back we will be destroyed by the wrath of God as was Lot's wife. She had been saved from Sodom but then was destroyed because she disobeyed the Lord.

If we desire to not be destroyed in the Day of Wrath we must obey the Lord in all He tells us to do. This means obeying the commandments given by the Lord and His Apostles in the New Testament. It is not enough to call Jesus "Lord." We must do what He says if we are to be saved in the Day of the Lord.

What does the Scripture teach about being saved? Let us look at a few familiar verses and see whether they support the current "ticket to Heaven" doctrine, or our contention that the Christian salvation is a change of behavior that makes us eligible to have fellowship with the Father and to enter the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps the following verse is well known, often quoted, but seldom practiced because of the three errors we have listed above.

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. (Philippians 2:12)

What is the context (the preceding and following verses) of the above passage? The context is an exhortation to righteous, holy behavior because of the example set by our Lord Jesus. The reader may wish to examine the context for himself.

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed."

Being saved requires that we obey the commandments written to us by the Apostles. It is not enough to "believe." How often we are told today that "Jesus did it all" and we are not required to obey the commandments of the Lord or His Apostles.

If we state that to be saved we must do what the Lord and His servants command us to do we are accused of being "Pharisees," of being "legalistic," of preaching "works." This accusation reveals the extent of the ignorance and moral decline of the believers of our day.

"Not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence."

We are to practice righteous behavior at all times, not just when we are being observed by the elders of the church.

"Work out your own salvation."

The above sentence tells us clearly that our present concept of the Christian salvation is erroneous. To be saved is not to be given a "ticket to Heaven" so when we die we will go to Paradise. Rather, salvation is a process that must be worked out each day of our life. There is no such thing as being saved yesterday. We are being saved today or not at all.

We are being saved. As Jesus deals with us each day we are to be confessing and repenting of our sins, and by His Virtue and the power of the Holy Spirit we are to be gaining the upper hand over our love of the world, our sinful lusts, and our self-love and self-centeredness.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (I John 2:4,5)

If we are not interacting with the Lord Jesus each day we are not entering the Kingdom of God. It can be seen from this that the disastrous "once saved always saved" concept is not logical or relevant. It is based on an erroneous concept of salvation.

Once we have been saved (delivered) from lying we might say we have been eternally saved from lying. This is true if we cease lying and continue to tell the truth in every instance. Such eternal deliverance is expected and entirely possible through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. But to state that once we make a profession of Christ we never again can be lost to the purposes of Christ no matter how we behave is not even remotely related to the holy Scriptures.

"With fear and trembling." We must work out our salvation each day by conquering the world, sin, and rebellion against God's will. We must work it out. We are to work out our salvation. Working out salvation is a continual interaction with the Word of God and with the Holy Spirit of God as He sanctifies us. We do not work out our salvation in an overconfident, frivolous manner as we see today but with fear and trembling because of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord that is at hand.

Working out our salvation means overcoming worldliness, lust, and self-will as the Holy Spirit leads us step by step, "city by city."

It may be noted that today any expression of the seriousness of being saved or being lost, or of accountability, the Day of Judgment, Hell, or eternal punishment, is often greeted with scorn. It is becoming popular to despise God's authority, to maintain that God would be unjust to punish people.

In some instances God is being presented as a person who desires that people be unhappy and that Satan is the god to be desired. This attitude is a direct expression of Satan and his angels and demons. Thus we have some claiming that God wants us to be happy all the time and others who declare that God desires we have no joy whatever.

The human being who dies with the attitude that the God of Israel wishes people to be miserable, and has a spiteful, bitter attitude toward God, will carry his hatred of God into the spirit realm, there to await the certain judgment that will fall upon all rebels in the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. The fate of such sinners is not enviable.

Whoever does not continually work out his own salvation with fear and trembling is not partaking of the Divine redemption. He may be denied entrance to the Kingdom of God in the Day of Wrath. At the same time, Christian believers have abundant reason to rejoice always in the Lord. God continually showers blessings of all sorts on those who do His will with a glad and thankful heart.

Notice the following:

For I know this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (Philippians 1:19)

We are aware the term "salvation" can be translated deliverance, referring to Paul's deliverance from the prison from which he was writing.

However, the context suggests Paul may have been speaking of much more than release from prison. He may have been referring to his salvation—salvation in this instance meaning a full grasp on Christ. A parallel thought is expressed in the third chapter of Philippians where Paul sought to "win Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

Consider also:

Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (I Timothy 2:15)

It was the woman who was deceived and disobeyed God's commandment. The woman will be saved by continuing in faith, love, holiness, and sobriety of conduct. If she has children she can gain favor with the Lord by training her children in the righteous ways of the Lord. She saves herself and her children in this manner.

Because of our incorrect theology concerning salvation, I Timothy 2:15 has proved to be a difficult verse to understand. But the passage is simple and direct if we have a correct understanding of salvation

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (I Timothy 4:16)

Timothy was to save himself and his hearers by his godly conduct, by his obedience to the doctrine of the Apostles. We are to save ourselves by obeying the word of the Apostles. We save ourselves and those who hear us by doing and teaching what the Lord and His servants have commanded.

We see from the above that salvation is a process we go through with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. We are to present ourselves before the Throne of God in Heaven each day, asking for Divine help in our hour of need. Salvation hardly is a "ticket to Heaven" that we are given on the basis of a profession of belief in the things pertaining to Christ.

It is absolutely true that at the moment of making a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus we enter eternal life. Our sins are forgiven. The condemnation that had rested on us is removed.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

Salvation is instantaneous. It is also progressive—a pressing forward toward the salvation of our soul. To deny this is to dangerously misunderstand the Divine redemption. We are forgiven by the blood of the Lamb but we validate this forgiveness by walking in the light of God's perfect will. To not understand this is to not understand the very bedrock principle of what is taking place in our salvation.

But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition [destruction]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)

The opposite of believing is shrinking back from our walk with the Lord. The verse is not referring to our changing our mind about points of theology. The Christian faith is a pressing toward a mark.

If we would gain the inheritance we must diligently and consistently seek the Lord.

And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11,12)

It is being taught today that salvation is unconditional. This hardly is the case.

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

"He that endureth to the end shall be saved." How often are these words of our Lord overlooked in these days? Some Christian editors of the Scriptures claim we are not saved by enduring to the end because the grace of salvation is a sovereign blessing of God that does not require a human response. Christian teaching actually has drifted away from the Scriptures to the point that the very Words of God are despised.

The expression "endureth to the end" implies that the Christian discipleship is a seemingly endless enduring of every kind of problem and tribulation, which it certainly is! We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation. Indeed, the gate is small, and the way is full of pressure that leads to eternal life. Few there are who find it and walk in it.

There is much pain and tribulation in the present life. The only way we can escape suffering and hardship is by betraying God and other people. There is no way we can lift the curse from the world or make it an enjoyable place in which to live other than by compromising our integrity.

In the world we shall have tribulation. The faithful disciple plods along each day, serving the Lord, overcoming the evil of the day by the help (grace) the Lord furnishes. The believers who are willing to sacrifice their integrity in order to make this world a pleasant place to live, who will not accept the cross the Lord has assigned to them, who deal treacherously toward people who are depending on them, will be sent deception by the Lord God. They have not received the love of the truth. God Himself will deceive them and they shall be tormented in the Day that is coming.

Numerous believers of our day are living in pleasure. They are dead in God's sight while yet alive in the flesh!

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:17,18)

Peter advises the Christian to not be surprised when he experiences fiery trials. Peter explains that these painful experiences are God's judgment on us so we shall be saved in the Day of the Lord. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty!

We find, in the following passage, the same concept of God punishing us in order to save us from the wrath that is to fall on the world:

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:32)

The Divine chastening may include sickness, and death in some instances.

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (I Corinthians 11:30)

What do we conclude from the words of this article? We conclude that the Christian teaching of today, while it holds forth the truths of the atoning death of the Lord and His triumphant bodily resurrection, has added a host of traditions and fables that have produced immoral, silly believers who are hoping for an unscriptural "rapture" to save them from the troubles that are rapidly approaching the nations of the earth, the same persecutions and pressures that the saints of all ages have experienced—and are experiencing today in many countries.

Let us look once again at the three central errors:

We are saved by believing and confessing the theological facts concerning the Lord Jesus, His atoning death and bodily resurrection, whether or not we obey the numerous commandments of the New Testament. This is Christian Gnosticism.

To be saved is to go to Paradise after we die and live there forever. Heaven is our "eternal home."

Any moment there will be a "rapture" in which all who have made a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and return with Him to Heaven, to their mansion in Paradise.

The "ticket to Heaven" doctrine, while it appears to be supported by a few verses taken out of context, is totally opposed to the righteous behavior that is the objective of the new covenant. The Christian spirit that fills the minds of the majority of the blood-washed contains much error.

The Lord Jesus would say to the Christian spirit, or angel: "Judgment is at hand. Repent of your love of the world, your love of sin, and your love of your own will and ways. Turn to Me in humility and offer your body a living sacrifice to God.

"Days of great revival are at hand, and also days of hideous moral depravity. People in their love for their sensual pleasures will become far more debased than animals, in their physical orgies, practicing every lustful perversion. Honor among men will be a thing of the past as treachery becomes common.

"Satan and his followers in the spirit realm will be increasingly manifest.

"Yet I have a holy remnant that I have reserved for Myself. They will work tremendous miracles in the coming hour, powerful signs and wonders that will enable all people everywhere to understand—if they so choose—the Person and will of the God of the earth.

"Whoever will repent and serve Me will be saved, but many will fall because of the abundance of sin and lawlessness. It is the final hour. It is time to take the Kingdom. He who overcomes the darkness through My Person and Virtue will escape being harmed spiritually and will stand before Me in glory. He shall reign with Me throughout the ages to come.

"The time has arrived. There no longer shall be delay. The hands of the clock approach midnight. Arise, daughter of Zion, and put on your robes of righteousness, the righteous behavior that proceeds from My Person. The evil on the earth will be without precedent but My Presence and power will continue to be greater.

"Fear nothing the enemy can do. Put your trust in Me. The Kingdom Age is upon you.

"He who continues to dwell in Me shall inherit all things. My blessing and protection shall be on him and his family as he remains faithful. He shall endure throughout the endless ages of eternity. My promise is to those who truly love Me. You have My oath."