|Abraham offers his son Isaac, Rembrandt
I need to empty myself as Jesus emptied Himself, because the Word tells me to have the same attitude in myself that was also in Christ Jesus. Self needs to be crucified and put to death as Jesus commanded.
Paul went on to write: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” (Phi 2:12)
My salvation is not a foregone conclusion. Just because I have given my life to Jesus does not mean I can sit back and relax now until I die, knowing I have a guarantee of eternity in heaven. I must work out my salvation with fear and trembling.
Why should I fear? Because God is holy and He requires His people to live nothing less than holy lives. He says, “Without holiness, no one shall see God.” I should fear God with a holy reverence, as I wrote about previously. I fear Him who has the power to destroy both my body and soul in hell, as Jesus warned, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat 10:28). As Luke recorded it, Jesus said, "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luk 12:5)
Why should I tremble? Because few people will be saved, and many people who call Jesus Lord are going to hell. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Mat 7:21). Many Christians merely hear the Word, but do not do what it says. At the judgment, Jesus will tell them, “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” I should tremble, because hell is a terrible place of unimaginable torment. Because people are there right now experiencing its horrors that will never end. It’s eternal and there is no way out. Once I die, there will be no further opportunity to repent or ask the Lord for mercy. It’s final. So right now while I am still alive on the earth, I need to live my life with trembling. I need to consider the realities of hell. I need to repent daily with trembling for even the smallest sins I commit. As brother Yong-Doo Kim wrote in his book, Baptize by Blazing Fire, “A daily repentant life is the fastest and shortest route to God’s mercy and compassion.”
Working out My Salvation
Why should I work out my salvation? I should work it out, because I was saved to do good works that were created long ago for me to do. These good works were created before the foundation of the world. This is why I am on earth at this time. It’s my purpose. I must no longer live for myself to please myself, but for Him who died for me and was raised again (2 Cor 5:15). I must work out my salvation, because faith without good deeds is useless and dead (Jas 2:14-26). I must work for the Lord while it is yet day, for the night comes when no man can work (Jn 9:4).
Putting it All Together
My friend, let me encourage you to do the same. Have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus, and Empty yourself to the best of your ability. Your salvation is not a foregone conclusion. Just because you have confessed Jesus as your Savior does not mean you can go on living like the world or living life for yourself.
We need to fear the Lord, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Taking the words of Jesus, "I tell you, fear Him!" He is holy. Tremble before Him at the thought of what you really deserve. We all deserve eternity in hell, a place of unimaginable and eternal torment. And once we are saved, we must be very careful to live the holy life He requires. Without holiness, no one will see God.
When Abraham had obeyed God's command to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, just as he took the knife in his hand to kill the boy, God provided a ram that was caught in the thicket (see Rembrandt painting above). And the Lord said through the angel, "Now I know that you fear God." (Gen 22:12). When the Lord looks at your life, can He say the same thing?
Work out your salvation, and do what the Lord has commanded you to do. Whatever He requires of you, do it. Be like Abraham, the man of faith, who worked out his faith with fear and trembling. When the Lord told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, he obeyed, as depicted in the painting by Rembrandt above.
If you want to experience God's compassion and mercy, then live a daily life of repentance.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy The Apostasy Parables and Should You Fear the Lord? You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.