Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
As I mentioned in a sermon or class a few weeks ago, I am a ‘ballad guy.’ I love ballad-type songs, whether hymns or secular songs or whatever, so I tend to gravitate toward softer, slower tunes. More than that, I am a big fan of ‘lyric rich’ music. That is, I like for a song to make me think. I am not a big fan of ‘pop’ music (no offense intended to anyone who is). Rather, I appreciate it when music causes me to reflect—when it stirs not only my emotions, but also my mind. To me, ideal songs are those that stick with me for days—or even weeks—after hearing them, repeating themselves over and over in my brain as I try to parse exactly what meaning they are trying to convey (which can—and often does!—include instrumentals). This is not to say that my tastes are better or worse than anyone else’s, but only to say that tastes are an individual thing. It is a personal choice—it is something that I, like any of us who enjoy music, have developed over time.
Deciding to become a Christian is also a personal choice. This does not mean that being a Christian is a private thing—far from it. What it does mean, however, is that each person who is convicted by the gospel of Jesus Christ must make a personal decision. The hope, of course, is that each one thus convicted will choose to be baptized into Jesus! And, again, this is a personal choice—this is an individual decision.
Once that all-important decision is made and we become a Christian, Paul has a lot to say to us (which we don’t have space, time, or the words to cover ALL of that in this short article!). One of the things Paul stresses, though—quoted above from Philippians 2:12-13—is that each Christian, each follower of Christ is to “work out” his or her salvation. God has worked in us, and continues to work in us, as Paul says. Because God works IN us, we are to be people who work OUT of that great blessing and that great salvation, with our eyes and hearts always attuned to the majestic and holy God who has rescued us. This is a personal thing, meaning that each one of us as Christians must take it upon ourselves to live out—right now in real time—this incredible salvation that God has given us through our faith in Jesus Christ. At the same time, we continue to have the encouragement of knowing that we are not alone in this—we are a part of a great God-created church of believers who all are trying to walk the same path.
What a mighty God we serve!