During the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, people came from around the nation, even the world, to find their fortune. I think people thought the gold was just lying around on the streets. But they had to go and mine it and work at it in hopes of discovering the mother lode.
When the apostle Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 NKJV), he was saying it’s like a mine. Go and discover all that God has done for you. Extract it. Live it out. Understand it. Appreciate it. Find out what it actually means for you.
This means working out our own salvation with self-distrust. We come with a reverence for God and a distrust of ourselves. We can’t do this in our own strength. Paul continues, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (verse 13 NKJV).
Some people say, “God does it all. I do nothing.” Others say, “I do it all and God does nothing.” Both of those views are wrong. God does it through you as you mine it and discover it for yourself. Work out your own salvation with self-distrust, for it is God who is working in you.
The phrase “fear and trembling” doesn’t mean that Paul is suggesting we can lose our salvation. You can make a recommitment to Christ if you need to, but once you have eternal life, it is a gift to you from God. You are born again once.
The devil loves to challenge what God has said. We must stand on the promises of God and not our emotions, because our emotions can mislead us.
Don’t work for your salvation; work out your salvation. What an incredible gift it is.