“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 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 do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
Growing up in christianity, I was quite familiar with this passage, as many christians often use it as a means of ending debate on topics regarding salvation. When an argument between two different beliefs could not be resolved, one would often try to end the discussion by stating something to affect of, “We’re told to work out our own salvation,” as if to say that the truths of salvation are determined by what an individual “works out” in his own mind and heart.
Essentially, the false argument is that the Bible says we’re responsible to “work out” (as if “in one’s own understanding”) our own salvation; so, as long as we are sincere in what we believe about salvation, then we’ll all be fine in the end.
Nothing could be further from the truth. But, in all actuality, this is not an atypical approach to all doctrinal differences among most christians. There are some 41,000 different flavors of christianity (denominations) in the world (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), and they all disagree with one another to some degree on doctrinal matters; so, the way they all claim to be “saved” is to assert that folks are free to believe whatever doctrines they want, as long as they all agree on the “essentials of salvation.”
Here’s the big problem with that one: christianity peddles a false salvation, so none of the denominations are actually truth. The “essentials” that are promulgated concerning salvation being a decision made by man (or a “sinner’s prayer”) aren’t even a legitimate part of salvation. They are all counterfeits of the true faith.
Moreover, those who are actually a part of Yah’s family are led by ONE Holy Spirit in ONE faith as ONE body. The entire concept of denominations is corrupt and evil.
But, what exactly was Paul saying in Philippians 2:12? What does it mean to “work out” one’s salvation? This is one of those instances where the common English translation is very detrimental to understanding (much like the difference between “sins” and “sin” promotes myriad false teachings in christianity).
In the modern English language, to “work out” something is synonymous with “figure out.” So, when we are presented with, say, a math problem, we are told to work it out in various different ways (on paper, in your head, on the board, etc.). Unfortunately, so many christians use that wrong interpretation of “work out” with this passage of scripture.
In the Greek, the word for “work out” is κατεργάζεσθε (katergazesthe), and that means: to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion — cause, to (deed), perform.
In the context of what Paul was telling the Philippians, he essentially told them to “live according to” (“to work outwardly,” meaning to perform or to present to others) your salvation, with awe and reverence for the astounding gift of eternal life you received. Again, the context is that Paul was exhorting them to be obedient concerning living in humility and blamelessly before others—to live out (in front of others) according to the spirit, and not the flesh.
Paul did not tell them that they were to “figure out” their salvation, for there is nothing for man to figure out about it. Salvation is not of man, so it is not up to man to define. It is a singular truth, and is obtained ONLY as the Father declares it is received, and that is not by decision or prayer, but by repenting of unbelief, which is to believe, and then enduring in that belief, confessing Messiah Yahoshua before others until the gift of eternal life is given by the Father.
And when that gift is given, the believer will be told by the direct, personal, testimony of the Holy Spirit that he has been adopted as a child of Yah (1 Corinthians 1:6-8, Romans 8:16). There is nothing to “figure out” in true salvation, for it isn’t man who decides to be saved, but the Father who places the witness (Greek: evidence, 1 John 5:10) within a person.
So, there is literally NO truth whatsoever in the notion of “agreeing to disagree” about doctrines of salvation. There is but one truth, and those who do not embrace it are in error.
There are not many different paths to salvation. There is ONE path to being made righteous before the Father, and that is by belief in His Son Yahoshua, and confessing His Son before others (enduring in belief).
The idea of different groups accepting other groups who teach different doctrines as all being of one body comes from the forces of darkness. The true bride of Messiah has no varying doctrines, no disagreements of belief, and no denominations. All denominations are of carnal men, and are works of the flesh, the world, and the devil, regardless of how “spiritual” they might look.
Since christianity is a counterfeit of the true faith, all of its thousands of denominations are just part of that counterfeit.
Messiah’s actual bride (those who have been given the covenant) is ONE in spirit and in truth, and her name is Y’isra-el (which means “rules as God,” and is what the bride will do in eternity as the wife of the King of heaven and earth).
For more information: Is Salvation Hard to Receive?