Paul writes in Philippians 2:12 that we are to, "work out our salvation with trembling and fear." How do we understand that scripture? Does it mean that we are to make sure we are constantly doing good works in His name in order to insure that we remain saved? If it does then it negates the meaning and power of His grace, for we are not saved by our good behavior, but by His unending grace. We are to live lives that show in the living, His life, and His love, but something much more than good works is being spoken of by Paul.
Wade Taylor, in his book The Secret of the Stairs, gives a much clearer meaning to this scripture. Everywhere in His Word we are exhorted to "grow in His grace," and this happens through the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives through the revelation of Himself and His Word. We grow in grace when His truth becomes incorporated into our lives. We don't merely have it as intellectual knowledge, but it becomes a literal part of our life, of who we are. Through His Spirit, the Father gives us revelation and understanding of Himself and His Word. First our minds understand, but it can't stop there. It has to become a literal part of who we are. I have a close friend who likes to speak of "chewing" on those things of which the Father is speaking to her about, revealing to her, in order that this truth might become a part of her life. This is what it means to "work out our salvation." Taylor says that it means that we "work it our experientially in our lives." Understanding in our minds, becomes reality in our lives. This is how Jesus' words about "knowing the truth" and therefore, becoming free.
Taylor illustrates this in his use of a stairway. He said the "riser" on the stairway is the place where the Father brings to us a new, deeper understanding of Himself and His Kingdom, but that revelation doesn't become truth and reality to us until we place our foot upon the actual step. Doing this he says will require an act of both obedience and a dying to self. This truth has to be taken to His cross, and whatever wrong ideas, resistance we may have to it, or where our flesh battles it, has to be died out to, only by that, can the truth then be worked into our lives. Only then, can we actually place our foot upon the step. Growing in His grace is then a journey of coming again and again to the "risers" He puts before us, and the crosses that accompany them, that we may, step by step, grow in the grace and knowledge of the Father. This is growing in grace, and this is what it is to "work out our salvation," and we do so in deep reverence, awe, and yes, fear, for we are then in the hands of a most Holy God.
The church desperately wants to take His salvation to a lost and dying world, but I don't think we will see much real success in that until we first have it worked out and into our own lives. Texas pastor Tony Evans said that "until the world sees that (Kingdom) world in YOUR world, you are not truly a follower of Christ. Until the truth, power, and life of His Kingdom, of Christ is being experienced, worked out in our lives, I believe we labor in vain to spread it. Before each of us today lies a stairwell, and that the first step of that stairwell has a riser. This is where He speaks to reveal Himself to us. Have you heard Him? Have you ever heard Him? If you have, have you allowed what He has spoken to be worked out, experienced in your life? Have you, we, been willing to die out to every contradiction to that truth that exists in our lives? Have we taken that step? Do we look for the next one? Are we growing in His grace? Are we truly living and experiencing His truth and life?