There is no confusion over the process of salvation.
I grew up in an Elim Pentecostal Church, and consequently I never had any trouble understanding what it took to be saved. Romans 10:9 describes the process in very simple terms: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (New International Version). When I got married, I moved away from the town where my church located and was led by God to a church that is not part of a denomination (Victory Gospel Church). This church, broadly speaking, believes and teaches a similar message to the Elim Church, which I still visit from time to time. Both churches believe that there is no confusion over the process of salvation, that the message of salvation is a simple one. You may be unsure if you are in the right church. If this is the case and you want to know how God can guide you to the church where He wants you, read my post, ‘What To Look For In A Church‘.
The simple message of how to receive the new birth, is not taught as a simple message.
However as I learned about other parts of the Church, I realised that not all churches teach salvation as being quite so simple and straightforward. Certainly I realise that there is more to salvation than just the new birth, and I often write about what else our salvation includes on this blog, but I am not referring to that. I am referring to the fact that in many churches the simple message of how to receive the new birth, is not taught as a simple message. One of the verses that has been used to muddy the waters is Philippians 2:12, “…..work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. In some churches this is taught as meaning that, after having received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour as per Romans 10:9, your salvation then needs to be worked at, and is dependent upon, the sort of life that you lead.
If Jesus is truly your Lord, you will obey Him in doing those good works.
I certainly agree that there is more to the Christian life than just receiving Jesus as your Lord & Saviour. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (English Standard Version) and indeed, if Jesus is truly your Lord, you will obey Him in doing those good works. The question is though, are those good works a vital part of obtaining the new birth? You could certainly read Philippians 2:12 that way, but is that really what it means? Ephesians 2:8-9 gives us the answer, “You have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. You are not saved by the things you have done, so there is nothing to boast about.” (Easy to Read Version). That verse makes it clear that any good works we do have absolutely no effect on whether or not we are saved. Isaiah 64:6 has this to say about our good works, “Even our good works are not pure. They are like bloodstained rags”.
These different translations can help us gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.
You may have been taught that you need to ‘work out your salvation’ by doing good works, etc. However the verses above show that this is simply not the case. Salvation is a gift to be received, it cannot be earned. So what exactly does Philippians 2:12 mean by ‘working out your salvation’? One of the advantages we have as English speakers, is the number of different translations that are available. Used together, these different translations can help us gain a deeper understanding of the Bible and often help with clarifying what a potentially confusing verse actually means. Here are some different translations of Philippians 2:12.
- “Continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity]” (The Amplified Bible)
- “You must continue to live in a way that gives meaning to your salvation” (Easy to Read Version)
- “Work hard to show the results of your salvation” (New Living Translation)
- “God has saved you from wrong ways. Now show this by the good things that you do” (Worldwide English)
Don’t ever be concerned about whether you have done enough to make it to heaven.
Many translations do speak of working out you salvation, but we should be diligent to note, that it says to ‘work out’, not to ‘work for’ – and there is a big difference. Your salvation cannot be earned and therefore it cannot be worked for, but at the same time the way that we live our lives should reflect the fact that we are saved. So don’t ever be concerned about whether you have done enough to make it to heaven. You can never do enough, but the good news is that you don’t have to – salvation is received solely by grace, through faith (see ‘Are You 100% Sure You’ll Go To Heaven?‘). “But what about in Matthew 24:13 where Jesus said, ‘He who endures to the end shall be saved?’ What if I’m not able to endure?” That is a whole other topic and if you want to find out more, my post ‘How To Survive The Tribulation (Guaranteed)‘ will explain.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
For the salvation prayer, please click here.