THE WORKING OUT OF SALVATION
By Rev. Richard Watson
THE WORKING OUT OF SALVATION
By Rev. Richard Watson (1781-1833).
VOL. 3 NO 4 DECEMBER 2000
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," Philippians 2:12,13. .
Men live to eat and drink, to plant, to build, to buy, and to sell. And what is that being who busies himself so much with earth? A transient sojourner; a spirit, hastening to the bar of God. Surely, then, we have other and higher concerns. This book tells us we have others. This house, this Sabbath day, your own hearts, confirm it. The text informs us what this concern is: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
We call your attention,
I. The term "salvation" has two senses,-deliverance, and a being raised to that state of holiness and happiness which God designs. In the text we suppose it includes both. Salvation was not, as some pretend, finished on the cross. It was not even secured; since something depends upon our own act. Salvation is a process. The first step is, deliverance from blindness and insensibility; the second, from condemnation. Our salvation then proceeds into a state of entire conformity to the mind of Christ. Yet it supposes growth, even then. It is also preservation, every moment, from temptation, sloth, neglect, impatience, until at death the pure spirit is committed into the hands of the Father, and enters upon the perfect and endless happiness of heaven.
We proceed to consider,
1. The term "work" denotes a vigorous application of the mind,
2. Salvation is to be worked out,-
3. "With fear and trembling:"
III. The encouragement afforded by the declaration, "God worketh in you both to will and to do." This settles the disputed point of Divine help and human agency; not philosophically, but authoritatively and practically. Neither does God so work in man as to render him a mechanical instrument; nor does man so work as that the work is to be attributed to his own powers.
God works "to will and to do." A great part of the controversy respecting free will arises from not distinguishing between a power to will and the act of willing. That such a distinction is just, appears most clearly from God's working in us "to do." Now, it were absurd to say, God does, that is, prays, watches, and believes for us; but he gives the power. It were equally absurd to say, God wills for us; but he gives the power to will; for he restores free agency. Again: if God necessitated our doing, he would not "work in us to do," but by us to do; so, if he necessitated our will, he would not work, not "in us to will," but by us to will. The sense is, that he works in us, that we may ourselves will and do.
God works in us to will. Several operations are necessary here. He enlightens the mind; impresses upon us the things that belong to our peace; and sets before us the motives which persuade the will. This, however, (continued in next column)
is not power to do. "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." God strengthens us by the rich effusions of his blessed Spirit. He does not convey all power at once. Some degree of it is given, independently of ourselves. Afterward the power is increased according to our diligence, and faith, and improvement. What then is there that you cannot attain? "God worketh in you."
Do you doubt of your attaining to saving faith? "God worketh in you;" and his grace is sufficient.Do you doubt of your attaining power over sin? "God worketh in you;" and is any thing too hard for him? Do you doubt of your gaining complete salvation? "God worketh in you;" and his almighty Spirit can sanctify the most corrupt and depraved nature.
Do you doubt your victory over trouble and conflict? Fear not; "God worketh in you;" and his strength shall be so made perfect in your weakness, that you shall be even "more than conquerors."
1. If you neglect your proper work, think not to blame God. He had both given and offered power.
I must confess I have no small liking for those rare, old-fashioned Methodist prayers. Oh! For a revival of those glorious violent prayers which are like hotshot against the battlements of Heaven. Oh! For the moving of the posts of the doors in vehemence. More thundering at the gates of mercy.
The editor, while agreeing with the content presented in this newsletter, does not necessarily endorse all of a writer's works, doctrines, etc. The editor is solely responsible for all mistakes.